Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff remains unconvinced that Michael Andretti’s proposed F1 team should be permitted to enter the sport, citing the potential financial hit to the existing 10 teams.
Andretti’s father, Mario, first revealed in February that ‘Andretti Global’ had applied to the FIA for an F1 entry from the 2024 season, claiming that the prospective squad “has the resources and checks every box”.
He subsequently explained in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com that the operation is set to be based in England, with additional plans to set up Formula 2 and Formula 3 teams under the Andretti banner going forward.
Under the terms of F1’s Concorde Agreement, any new entrant into Formula 1 must pay a $200 million anti-dilution fee to be distributed among the 10 existing teams, to compensate them for the extra outfit now sharing the sports’ prize purse.
But while Mario claims that the Andretti bid is willing and able to pay such a fee, Wolff says the operation needs to show that it will continue to add value to F1.
Wolff: A new F1 team needs to add value
“I’m sure that if we have an American team with an American driver, that would be very beneficial,” Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com.
“But we have 10 entries today [and] we divide the prize fund among those 10 entries.
“We have invested considerable amounts over the last 10 years. Each of the organisations that’s sitting here on the podium has probably put more than a billion into their Formula 1 projects over the years, so it needs to be accretive.
“If a team comes in, how can you demonstrate that you’re bringing in more money than it’s actually costing? Because an 11th team means a 10 per cent dilution for everybody else.
“If one is able to demonstrate that, then we should all be sitting at the table and cheering for such an entry, but that hasn’t been demonstrated yet.
“And that may sound a bit dry, because it comes down to the numbers, but the value of F1 is that it’s a limited amount of franchises, and we don’t want to dilute that value by just adding teams.”
McLaren, Alpine in favour of Andretti’s entry
Responding to the same question, McLaren CEO and Andretti’s compatriot, Zak Brown, struck a more positive tone.
“I agree with Toto. We’ve got 10 great teams, and an 11th and 12th team need to add value to the sport,” began Brown.
“Obviously, the Andretti name has a huge history in Formula 1 and various forms of motorsport, and I think would add a lot of value.
“As long as it’s a team that helps build the sport, unlike some of the other entries that we’ve seen over the years that have come and gone in a year or two or three… I think we can’t accept teams like that.
“But a very credible racing team, with a credible brand, with the right resources, I think is additive to the sport, and that appears to be what Michael has put together. So, on that basis, we are supportive.”
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi was also supportive of the entry proposed by Andretti, which Mario said had agreed a deal to run engines made by Alpine’s parent company, Renault.
“I’m very favourable. I’ve talked to Michael as well,” Rossi added.
“It goes along with the expansion in the US [and] I think that will contribute to the show. An American team will directly generate, I guess, interest in the US, and therefore revenue.
“Then we need to demonstrate that it’s enough to compensate for the dilution that Toto was mentioning.
“Gut feeling, I think it would, but let’s do the job properly, and we’ll see.”