FIA President changes stance, advises Andretti to buy another F1 team

FIA President changes stance, advises Andretti to buy another F1 team

The FIA President has changed his mind and now advises Andretti Cadillac to buy an already-existing team on the grid.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has advised Andretti Cadillac to buy another team in order to join the F1 grid in a surprise change of mind from his earlier stance.

Initially leading the charge to bring more teams into F1, Ben Sulayem started the Expressions of Interest process in 2023 to solicit proposals for new teams to join the championship. However, he now feels that the grid is not about ‘the number, but about the quality.’

Andretti and the General Motors brand Cadillac collaborated to develop an entry that met the FIA’s requirements to join the Formula 1 grid. However, the entry was turned down in January after talks with Formula One Management collapsed.

The rejection came despite Andretti Cadillac’s approval by the FIA to join the grid because it was the only prospective outfit that met the organization’s strict standards in its selection procedure. However, this hasn’t stopped Andretti, which has kept moving with its F1 preparations in spite of the uncertainty surrounding its future.

Several team bosses have expressed reservations in regards to expanding the grid with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggesting over the Monaco weekend that buying an existing team would be the ideal solution for Andretti to join F1.

Up to 12 teams are allowed on the grid under the current Concorde Agreement between the teams, the FIA, and FOM. New teams must pay an entry fee of $200 million to join, but following a very successful period for Formula 1, talks over the next Concorde Agreement could see that fee triple.

The FIA president has previously advocated for grid expansion, stating at the announcement of the Expressions of Interest process that conditions are right for such setting. However, he has since clarified that Andretti-Cadillac should buy an existing team.

“I have no doubt FOM [Formula One Management] and [commercial rights holders] Liberty [Media] would love to see other teams as long as they are OEMs [car manufacturers],” Ben Sulayem said at the Monaco Grand Prix.

“I would advise them [Andretti Cadillac] to go and buy another team, not to come as the 11th team.

“I feel that some teams need to be refreshed. What is better? To have 11 teams as a number or 10 and they are strong? I still believe we should have more teams but not any teams. The right teams.

“It’s not about the number, it’s about the quality.”

Ben Sulayem’s new stance seems somewhat phony given that no team is currently up for sale, as everyone is riding out the economic boom that is propelling the sport forward, with minimum valuations approaching $1 billion.

Additionally, Andretti tried hard a few years ago to buy Sauber and was almost there until Swedish billionaire Finn Rausing, who owns the Swiss team, called off the talks. However, Ben Sulayem is certain that some struggling teams on the grid are on the brink of possible takeover.

“Without mentioning names, there are teams which are struggling… Struggling with performance, struggling even with management,” Ben Sulayem said. “It’s about having the right team, not to lose a chance or an opportunity where someone like GM [General Motors] with a PU [power unit] is coming to Formula 1.

“Imagine the impact. We have three races in America. We have such a huge fan base. But we don’t have a proper [U.S.] team. I’m so happy to have Ford in [with Red Bull from 2026] but imagine having GM and imagine having American drivers.”

Just to refresh your memory, the $200 million anti-dilution charge that a new team must pay to enter Formula 1 is distributed among the ten incumbent Grand Prix teams. There has been discussion on raising the anti-dilution cost to an astounding $600 million in the framework of the sport’s 2026 Concorde Agreement, the crucial commitment that defines the commercial and financial terms between F1, its teams, and the FIA.

“We have to have a balance,” said Ben Sulayem. “Is $200 million too low? I believe $600 [million] is something where it is right for the current market.”

Over the past year, there has been a great deal of friction and discord between the FIA and Formula 1, but both parties have made an effort to resolve their differences and start over. They announced a joint strategic plan that will shape the sport’s future earlier this month.

“Peace is always good, you can’t have all the time unnecessary issues,” Ben Sulayem said. “We both understand that we need to go forward and the only way to go forward is to have much more clarity between us.

“We are on the same boat regardless and what we want is sustainability of the business. We are with FOM when it comes to business.

“We are the partners and we have to also forget the small things and find a solution how can we address these issues.”

Leave a Reply