I was reading an interesting article by Adam Cooper over at Motorsport today discussing F1 boss Stefano Domenicali’s comments regarding Michael Andretti’s effort to enter F1.
In short, Stefano doesn’t feel the need to increase the number of teams—and you’ll recall that was Toto Wolff’s rebuttal to Mario Andretti who took to social media to suggest Toto had too much sway in F1.
The reason is simple, prize money. When F1 lost its seemingly limitless tobacco sponsor money, it put the sport in a tailspin as far as title sponsors for teams and revenue streams were concerned.
Many thought tech companies would enter as title sponsors of teams but that didn’t really pan out. This meant that the teams became more reliant on their portion of the revenue F1 generates per year in a complicated and scheduled payout based on the teams’ position in the Constructor’s Championship each year.
This means that adding a team would dilute that prize total leaving the existing teams with less revenue in prize-money payout each year. You could see where teams, and Domenicali, might prefer Andretti to simply buy an existing team like Haas, Alpha Tauri or Sauber but those conversations didn’t prove fruitful for Andretti.
One has to assume the cost asked for any one of the existing teams or even a controlling interest in an existing team is more than the entry fee and start-up cost for a new team as Andretti is keen to do now. However, Stefano told Motorsport:
“I think today in the actual status of F1, it’s not a problem of quantity, where we can see a step of increasing the value of F1,” Domenicali said.
“It is a matter of understanding really, not only the ones that have a bigger or louder voice, but there will be other people, because Andretti was quite vocal about his request. There are others that have done the same, in a different way.
“So the evaluation is not only with Andretti, the evaluation is with others that are respecting the silence on trying to be more productive on proving who they are, and respecting the protocol we have put in place.
“As I always said I don’t believe that it is today the problem of having more teams that will give more value to the championship.
“But there is a protocol that has to be fulfilled. And everyone, Andretti included, is following that. So this is the situation today. I don’t see any changes. And I don’t want to say yes or no.”
You also get the sense that he was not happy with how quick and vocal Andretti was publicly in sharing his desire to enter F1. There is a “protocol” after all and that wasn’t followed discreetly. One might assume that Andretti felt their name and brand was value enough to get a slot and they took to social media to build support on their platform. No different than other teams or Lewis Hamilton does for a cause they believe in. Use their platform to garner support among fans.
That apparently didn’t sit well with F1. It remains to be seen if the FIA will grant a new team entrance but it is clear that F1’s boss and some team bosses aren’t too keen on splitting the pie into smaller pieces. Normally I would agree but with the cost cap, that seems slightly less relevant.
However, Audi and Porsche are entering but via existing teams and not diluting the prize money. Andretti might do well to acquire Haas or Williams if they want in but I am sure those price tags are high now.
It’s a good article so go over and read it here. He has interesting comments about Andretti’s social media posts about Toto having too much power and more.