Andretti Formula Racing LLC has been accepted by the FIA to potentially join the grid, beating out several applicants during Phase 2 of the application process. The FIA called Phase 2 a “comprehensive application process” that analyses the sporting, technical, and regulatory merits of each entrant. Of the four applicants, only Andretti has moved on to Phase 3, but that doesn’t mean we will be seeing the team on the grid. Actually, Andretti has passed the easy part, the hard part is yet to come.
Andretti now has to hash out the commercial terms with the Commercial Rights Holder (CRH), Formula 1 itself. They might be harder to convince because if you look at Formula 1’s response, it wasn’t the most enthusiastic.
“We note the FIA’s conclusions in relation to the first and second phases of their process and will now conduct our own assessment of the merits of the remaining application,” Formula 1 wrote.
It could be that F1 is simply tempering expectations, but it sits poorly since we know that the majority of the current teams aren’t happy with the idea of an 11th team cutting into their share of the prize money.
Despite the teams’ ambivalence, Andretti have done everything they can to ensure a spot on the grid, even grabbing an OEM with one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, General Motors, and their Cadillac brand. This hasn’t really appeased Formula 1 though.
Why don’t the teams want an 11th team? The popular theory is greed. Basically, the current teams believe it’s better to have 1/10th of a smaller share of money, rather that 1/11th of a larger share. They argue that it was these ten teams who helped build Formula 1 into a sustainable business, while a new team will simply reap the benefits.
The 2021-25 Concorde Agreement states that any new team needs to pay $200 million to join the grid in order to offset the financial losses the current grid faces. There has been talk that the price is set to increase to $600 million to better represent the heightened value of the smaller teams and to follow practices present in American sports series. Andretti wants to join the grid in 2025, before the new Concorde Agreement is written up with a potentially increased anti-dilution fee.
From an outsider’s perspective, Andretti have done everything asked of them, as exemplified by the FIA’s approval. If Formula 1 doesn’t allow Andretti onto the grid, who will they allow? Andretti is a massive name in motorsport, not only was Mario Andretti a former F1 World Champion, but they also run teams in Formula E, IndyCar, Indy NXT, and Extreme E. Needless to say, they have the credentials.
What we mean to say, if Formula 1 deny Andretti’s entry, then questions will be asked as to the reason why, when viewers see that money is the primary issue. It’s a bad look.