F1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali says the series has interest from new manufacturers, many of whom want a brand refresh that he says F1 offers.
Domenicali suggests that new manufacturers are interested in joining so as to stay competitive in a broadening automotive industry. As recently as this year, Aston Martin increased their involvement in F1, and in past seasons Honda has joined as an engine manufacturer.
With six teams now tied to carmakers, and four different engine manufacturers – albeit with Honda laving after 2021 – Domenicali says further manufacturers have had discussions with F1. Not disclosing the extent of any conversations – some of which, he says, are ongoing – he says most of the interest is focused on the 2026 engine regulations, with costs too high to be viable in the current regulatory era.
“It’s not possible that the power unit in Formula 1 can cost what it is costing today [and attract new manufacturers],” Domenicali said in an interview on Sky Sports. “I think there is a margin, a big margin on that, and one of the agendas we have is that we would like to involve teams and OEMs to try and anticipate the new engine even earlier than what is expected of the regulations, and make sure these kinds of things will be part of the agenda, and I’m sure we can do it.”
Domenicali proposes that F1 can provide a platform for manufacturers to present themselves in a new light if they so choose. “I think one of the biggest challenges that automotive manufacturers have today is to feel younger. There is this kind of fight between the old school of OEM and the new OEMs that are coming in on the mobility side.
“But I think the OEMs can use the platform to get the fresh image they maybe need for the future. What I can say is that we are in discussions with other manufacturers. For the moment, they prefer to stay quiet, but the good news is that there are other companies, very important companies, that are really keen to understand what is the value that they can bring home using the F1 platform,” Domenicali summed up.
F1 has been attempting to draw more manufacturers in past seasons in its fight for relevancy, with cutting-edge V6 turbo-hybrids currently in use no longer the flavor of the month in the automotive sector. Since 2014, only Honda has joined as an engine manufacturer, though the likes of Renault, Aston Martin, and Alfa Romeo have all introduced themselves in the sport since the new formula’s implementation.
Ferrari has long been an engine supplier in the sport and remains one, albeit still reeling from a testing 2020 F1 campaign in which they and their customer teams were compromised by inadequate power output. Often a contender at the front, their competitiveness was felt in the 2020 season, but Domenicali says that, for the sake of the sport, “we need” Ferrari to return to winning ways.
“What my position was with Ferrari and what it is now, I think we need Ferrari in the show,” said Domenicali. “They passed through a difficult time, no doubt. They need to find a way to go back to track. This year I am expecting to be better than last year for sure because they had the time to work on the engine that was the side that was allowed in the regulation.
“For sure there is lot of attention because Charles Leclerc is an incredible driver and Carlos Sainz, I can see from what I hear is really starting at Maranello with the right approach. I think that even Toto and Christian would love to see a Ferrari fighting for the championship,” Domenicali summed up.
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