The original deadline has come and gone when the FIA were supposed to announce the results of their process to evaluate new Formula One applicants.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been tight lipped over the matter since his spat with the sport’s commercial rights owners over a potential valuation of $18bn and a sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Andretti criticises F1 “self interest”
However, the coals may be warming up in the FIA enclave and given Ben Sulayem has returned to the topic of new F1 entrants this week, the white smoke may be emerging in the very near future.
There are five applicants being considered by the FIA though the most controversial has been the Andretti/GM entrant. Andretti has upset the F1 establishment calling them “selfish” in January this year as reported by Forbes.
“In Formula 1, the owners look out for themselves. Not what is best for the series. That’s the difference between President Mohammad’s position and the team owner’s position.”
Andretti claims to be up and running and designing a car for the 2025 season which will upset the ten established teams even further.
F1 Teams want more money
The current Concorde agreement which runs to the end of 2025 requires any new entrant to pay an ‘anti dilution’ entry fee to the other teams of $200m.
Despite this only being inserted two years ago into the latest Concorde contract between the teams and F1, many of them now believe the number should be closer to $600m, but they will have to wait until 2026 and the next iteration of Concorde to enshrine this as a legal requirement.
Andretti being approved for 2025 would see theAmerican motor racing empire join at a discount of $3-400m which is clearly causing some angst amongst the current F1 competitors.
The FIA president has again stirred the paddock pot with his comments this week over the state of the Andretti application.
F1 application process “robust”
“The Expressions of Interest process is very robust and there is no circumstance where we can deny any teams if they fulfil the criteria to enter,” said Ben Sulayem.
Andretti compete globally in at least seven different motor racing category most recently in the endurance race at the 24 hour of Le Mans.
”So imagine me saying no to someone like GM General Motors?” continues the FIA president.
“We have in the regulations that we can go up to 12 teams. I’m not breaking [rules],” adding he believes General Motors to be one of the heavyweights in global auto manufacturing.
“I don’t blame some of the teams for being reluctant . . . Challenge them with maybe the performance or the financial benefits . . . We believe that the conditions are right for new entrants for F1.”
FIA president indicates Andretti are in
This is the clearest indication the FIA is going to approve new F1 entrants and of them all Andretti/Cadillac look to be the best prepared.
Of course Red Bull Racing have signed a partnership arrangement with another American giant Ford to collaborate on their 2026 power unit. However, Christian Horner questions how much General Motors are really bringing to the party.
“Ford, they’re not pretending to be an entrant in F1,” he said.
“GM are associated with Andretti at the moment, who currently don’t have an entry.”
Horner queries GM actual involvement
Despite Horner casting assertions in the direction of GM, the level of involvement Ford have with Red Bull Powertrains is at present questionable.
Some F1 writers have suggested it is in most parts a ‘badging exercise’ where Ford cough up significant amounts of cash to support the development and delivery of the new 2026 power unit.
Andretti too have a questionable relationship with GM. They previously were believed to have an agreement with Alpine/Renault for power units though the emergence of GM and Cadillac coincidentally adds weight to their application to join F1 by bringing in another global brand.
“GM is a great brand, but what I’m interested in is what is their model?” Horner told Motorsport.com.
“I don’t assume they’re going to go and build a facility like [ours]. I assume it’s a badging exercise.”
Liberty won’t pay more prize money
Horner reverts to the bug bear he and other team bosses have repeatedly expressed and that is the amount the new teams are to pay for the privilege of joining the sport.
“Now, the FIA will run their process. I think, as with all these things, you’ve got the logistical issue of how to accommodate the 11th team.
“But the reality is what it really boils down to is, who’s going to pay for it? And if it dilutes the existing 10, of course, they’re going to have an issue with it.
“Liberty are not going to want to dilute their element of the income. So that’s where you end up at a stand-off.”
Ferrari dismisses value of American team
Andretti claim they are bringing added value to the sport based on the founding family’s involvement in F1. Further, the team propose to be a true all American team with America drivers unlike Haas whose operational base is in England.
However the Ferrari team boss is unconvinced:
“The fact that you have an American team is not a good reason,” said Fred Vasseur who believes you don’t need a national team for F1 to make it big in a country.
“Because for me, first, we have an American team, thanks to Haas. And the second one is that if you want to be at the top in the country, it’s a matter of drivers.
F1 huge in Netherlands due to Max
“Have a look at what’s happened in the Netherlands. It’s [F1] the biggest success of the world today, and they don’t have a team, they have Max.”
The Ferrari boss attempts to claim he would have the same attitude to a manufacturer joining the sport, yet recently Porsche and Audi were invited to the table with the result that Audi is now joining F1 in 2026.
One thing is for certain, if the new entrants are forced to wait until 2026 by the FIA, the response from the current teams will be more muted.
However, if Mohamed Ben Sulayem allows Andretti an early entry the season before there will be uproar over the $200m they have to pay given the team will treble this the following year.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 3, 2023