The FIA announcement earlier this week approving Andretti F1 as the 11th Formula One team will be the talking point of this weekend’s racing in Qatar. Billionaire owner of the Aston Martin team, Lawrence Stroll, has already reacted speaking out against adding more competitors to the F1 grid.
A whole host of potential problems have been cited by those opposed to an 11th team. One of the more absurd is crowded pit lanes and limited paddock facilities at certain F1 events, yet the sport accommodated 12 teams successfully less just a decade ago.
Poor excuses to exclude 11th F1 team
Interestingly, there has been an 11th team in the paddock at a number of race events this year as Formula One has hosted the Brad Pitt movie crew who have been filming the new blockbuster movie in the making.
At the driver press conference in Qatar, David Croft asked those present for their thoughts on the Andretti announcement, not to a man the drivers were reticent to express their views on the topic. The wall of silence from the F1 competitors since the FIA statement was issued has been striking in terms of its solidarity.
Speculation is growing that Andretti will face significant opposition from FOM and the teams and the matter could end in legal action which in no way will be a good look for Formula One.
Lewis Hamilton has broken ranks with the F1 establishment and expressed a positive view on the news Andretti F1 is joining the sport.
Lewis Hamilton breaks ranks
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I think in F1 I’ve always felt that there weren’t enough cars on the grid.
“There will definitely be people that won’t be happy for me to be so supportive of it! But I think it’s great,” revealed the seven times world champion.
In North America, the IndyCar series regularly has more than 25 cars racing each weekend and at the global event that is the Indy500, 33 cars each year take the orders to “start your engines.”
The introduction of the cost cap has seen a number of teams lose personnel in a drive to reduce their annual spend to remain inside the budget limit. Hamilton believes adding another team to the sport will create opportunities for those and others and even for maybe a female driver to be given a race seat.
Andretti promoting a female driver
“It’s an opportunity for more jobs, there’s another two seats available for a potential female driver to come through. It opens up more possibilities, and I think it’ll be more exciting for the race,” Hamilton reflected.
Andretti currently has Jamie Chadwick in their stable racing in the IndyNXT feeder series. Chadwick dominated the W Series for three seasons and has extended testing with the F2 Rodin outfit.
“There has been a massive amount of talk in the press quite recently about a woman in F1. We were prepared to put one in and I honestly believe that Jamie would be okay in F1. I think she’d do well,” said Rodin’s CEO when talking about their failed bid to join the F1 grid.
David Dicker compares Chadwick with the new hot talent that is Red Bull’s Liam Lawson and reveals in testing her lap times stood up well to the temporary AlphaTauri driver.
F2 boss supports Chadwick’s inclusion
”Look, I’ve supported Liam Lawson for five years – I’ve put more money into his career than Red Bull has – we tested him here and we tested Jamie in the same cars. Jamie can do the job, so I’d definitely be happy to put her in the car.
“It’s not like it was tokenism – I think that, especially in the F1 car where you’ve got power steering and a few other things, I think she might surprise a few people.”
Whilst Hamilton is positive about the opportunities Andretti F1 can offer, his team mate George Russell is toeing the party line Toto Wolff has advocated previously.
Russell cagey over new F1 team
“Formula 1’s the pinnacle and we want to see quality competition,” he said. “So I’m not for, I’m not against, but definitely if there were to be an extra team, it’s got to be a quality outfit, one that can add to the sport.
“We want to see competition. In an ideal world, you want to see all 10 teams fighting against one another. So I’m sure F1 will come to the best conclusion and answer, whatever it may be.
“But we’ve got to have quality over quantity. But as I said I don’t feel strongly,” Russell who speaks for the drivers’ association concluded.
Yet newbie Liam Lawson who has struggled to break into Formula One believes an 11th team would be beneficial to young drivers trying to make it to the pinnacle of motorsport racing.
Young drivers positive about new F1 opportunities
“In my situation, yes it could definitely help having more cars on the grid for racing. But it something I’ve never really thought about because it always been just 10 teams.
“Specifically for someone like me, it can help make the step into Formula One” the New Zealander concluded.
McLaren’s rookie driver Oscar Piastril also believes another team is beneficial. “It could create an opportunity for young drivers,” he observed.
Of course McLaren boss Zak Brown has voiced support for the Andretti F1 team and so his drivers are less muted on the topic than those who know their management is in opposition to the inclusion of an 11th F1 team.
MORE F1 NEWS: Hamilton told to put up or shut up over diversity
Earlier this year, Lewis Hamilton gave an interview to Sky F1 where he admitted he felt like a “lone ranger” as his motorsport career developed. His push for diversity in Formula One is not about finding the next black driver, he said, but about making the sport more inclusive in general.
Speaking to Mike Wedderburn the seven times champion claimed…READ MORE ON THIS STORY