F1 rejects Andretti

A few years ago, The FIA would have a period of open inquest as to any potential new teams that might want to join Formula 1. The FIA would review the applications and determine if any teams would be allowed to join the grid as long as they met the criteria. This begat many new teams such as HRT, Marussia, BAR Honda, BMW, Toyota, Brawn GP, Super Aguri, Stewart/Jaguar etc.

There was a change to the current Concorde Agreement which involved an approval process by Formula One Management or FOM. This wouldn’t have been a feature that the former FIA president Max Mosley would have stood for but it’s now in the agreement.

As such, while the FIA did open a new-team inquiry process and approved Andretti Autosport’s entry application, FOM has declined Andretti’s application for the foreseeable future.

The statement did suggest that the door might be open for a potential entrance into F1 in 2028. The main reasoning was:

“Our assessment process has established that the presence of an 11th team would not, on its own, provide value to the championship. The most significant way in which a new entrant would bring value is by being competitive. We do not believe that the applicant would be a competitive participant.”

Quite frankly, I find this stunning. This was never a prerequisite for Haas F1, HRT, Marussia/Manor, Lotus F1, Renault (when they bought Lotus), Mercedes (when they bought Brawn GP), Red Bull (when they bought Jaguar or Jaguar when they bought Stewart).

When the NFL, NHL or MLB expanded, was it a prerequisite that the team had to be competitive right out of the box? If it was, that’s news to me. F1 knows as well as anyone that a brand new team will most likely not be as competitive and Audi may prove that to us when they re-brand Sauber. It takes time to get your sea legs in F1 against the world’s best.

In the end, I don’t think the desire for a competitive team is the prime mover here, it’s prize fund money. Andretti could be, or another existing team, left out in the cold with no prize money at the end of the year despite the massive amount required for new entrants to offset this very fact. Here is what FOM said:

“The addition of an 11th team would place an operational burden on race promoters, would subject some of them to significant costs, and would reduce the technical, operational and commercial spaces of the other competitors,” it added.

“We were not able to identify any material expected positive effect on CRH financial results, as a key indicator of the pure commercial value of the championship.”

Another point made involved the use of customer engines. Andretti would need to source engines from, presumably Renault, for the 2025/26 seasons and FOM felt that it would be better if they came with their own saying:

“We would look differently on an application for the entry of a team into the 2028 championship with a GM power unit, either as a GM works team or as a GM customer team designing all allowable components in-house,” added F1.

“In this case there would be additional factors to consider in respect of the value that the Applicant would bring to the Championship, in particular in respect of bringing a prestigious new OEM to the sport as a PU supplier.”

Again, this was not required of Haas F1, Red Bull, HRT, Marussia, Lotus. Super Aguri, Force India, Brawn GP, and isn’t currently required for McLaren, Aston Martin, Haas, Sauber, Williams or Red Bull and Visa CashApp RB.

In what world does a new team have to come with it’s own chassis, engine, gearbox and electronics given half the current grid doesn’t have it themselves? Apart from Andretti showing how they would immediately increase the value of the series, how could F1 assure GM and Andretti that owning it’s own engine and gearbox would make them competitive and the investment logical given their performance projections over the next 5-10 years? Surely getting in F1 under the “Listed Parts” program like Haas F1 did would give a team some runway to get their program up and running.

If Andretti is going to put up a half or three quarters of a billion dollars into their F1 program, surely there are milestones and performance metrics that they would like to achieve while working with GM to evolve into the sport as a supplier. This takes time and patience.

FOM might argue that this series is not a rapid prototyping business model program for GM to dabble in, only to decide to pull the plug and leave. Perhaps they want more commitment from GM-hence their comment about it being a full works team—and this might offer more permanency in their revenue investment and potential. One might argue that GM’s interest may not have been fully evident and there could be a case of Andretti parting ways with GM and sticking with Renault engines should they decide to. No guarantees in essence. I’m not sure, this is all supposition on my part, of course.

I can’t think of a team on this grid that had to go through this level of deliberation and discussion nor were they subject to this kind of requirement before. If that were the case, the grid might only have five teams.

A sad decision as I think Andretti would have made the sport better and certainly would have played a bigger role in the American interest in F1. You can blow a lot of smoke to create a smoke screen to obscure the real prime mover of your decision but as with many things, it all comes down to money. In this case, money the teams and F1 weren’t convinced they would have if Andretti came on board.

This decision, to not allow a fully funded operation like Andretti with 100’s of millions invested in the F1 program, makes operations like Haas F1 seem like a sour anecdote. Gene Haas has been vocal about his unwillingness to invest more in his team unless he sees results while Andretti was investing millions and bringing one of the largest car makers in the world with them.

As a side note, I will be interested to hear what the FIA say about this if anything.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Peter

This sentence explains everything in their teeny tiny minds: “We were not able to identify any material expected positive effect on CRH financial results, as a key indicator of the pure commercial value of the championship.”
Really? That’s why they spent $500million going to Vegas to attract the red neck American viewers (and see how well that turned out! – not).
Like Andretti or not, this is a stupid decision. However, what they cannot stop is Andretti taking over another team… I am pretty sure that’s what is next. Let’s see if they can stop that.

cragowc

I cannot agree more. If FOM wanted to kickoff a decline in F1 interest in America, this is a great way to start it off. I hate it when I am embarrassed by a sport I love.

cragowc
96trees

Maybe the three races we have here could make some suggestions of why this is important to them.

everydayroadrage

This made me so mad I mostly fixed my WordPress login just to comment.  The FOM statement is so full of BS that you can just toss it right out the window as being fully disingenuouss. A lot of other people have done a great job of countering each point but don’t waste your time, none of that is the real ‘why’.  The most charitable way to view this is people at the teams and FOM just personally disliked Andretti that much. Which is still a very bad look. Outside of F1 insiders and Grace, fans actually like the Andretti… Read more »

Matt

Is it over the line of Decorum and Civility to use the very concise and descriptive word Ninnies for the members and management of FOM? The word is the most fitting I can think of to describe the very wealthy adolescent mindset used to basically slander the Andretti organization and at the same time make the FOM themselves look like a bunch of scared little girlie men (as Mr. Schwarzeneger would put it) Trying to put off the inevitable that I am pretty certain that Andretti will eventually force themselves through EU law onto the grid. I cannot say that… Read more »

Sherman Sims

Welp, Lewis to Ferrari so let the new round of gear buying begin and this story disappears.

Paul Kiefer

I’d be watching for an antitrust suit (or however that works internationally). FOM (and possibly the Concorde Agreement) has put up a barrier to entry. That’s a clear sign that things are not “free-market” over there.