F1 drivers and team boss reflect on FIA’s decision to allow Andretti to be part of the grid, as the decision now is upon Formula One Management.
After the FIA opened the tender for new teams to enter the sport, they granted Andretti an entry from the four finalists. It is now on FOM to finalise the commercial details and grant them or deny them an official entry on the grid as the 11th F1 outfit.
While the FIA is pressing hard for Andretti to be part of the grid, it all depends on FOM now if they agree upon. The F1 paddock, though, remains confrontational about the situation as they are wary about the finances that will be diluted and divided among 11 teams.
The F1 team bosses have strong views against the situation especially the teams who already face high challenge to make it in the budget cap. Some of the drivers are fine with new competition but they have to adhere to what their teams say.
Here’s what the F1 drivers and team bosses say about Andretti’s entry –
Lewis Hamilton: “I mean, firstly, it wasn’t that I support Andretti. I think from a driver’s perspective, it’s exciting to potentially see more cars. And then the idea of an 11th team… You know, we have over 2,000 people in our team. So that’s, that’s a huge amount of jobs. But we have to make sure that the criteria, which is quite strict is really respected. And I feel like we need to amend the criteria actually, and make sure that there’s an opportunity for real impact, really making sure that if there is a new team, they have to be diverse. They have to perhaps create an opportunity for a female driver to come through. And it has to be diverse from the top up.
“At the moment, it’s all white owners. And there’s a real lack of diversity from the top down. It’s all male, and that needs to change. So yeah, that was just that’s my thought. But I really do have 100% faith in Stefano, who I’ve known for a long, long time. I think what he’s doing at the top, there’s no one that could do a better job than him. And I know that he will make the right decision. Moving forward, he’s a racer, and he’s passionate about the growth of the sport, so happy to leave it in his capable hands.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah. A great team. I know Michael, and he will be, obviously a great name to add to Formula 1 but there are other people in charge of this kind of decisions and first the FIA and the FOM and the teams as well. So, yeah, you know, for me, it doesn’t… I don’t know exactly what to say. Whatever is the final decision is going to be OK. I like Michael, as I said, I like the organisation, but I also understand other things, and I will support as well, whatever Aston Martin the position and, you know, I will be okay with anything.
“We’ll speak about the future but I don’t know how many years I will be here, but I don’t know in Formula 1 there is not much of a battle between teams and even if we are 50 on track, we will only fight against one or two drivers, because they have more or less the same package as you have. There have been some discussions in the past as well, even having three cars per team, things like that. So, at the end, you never know what is the best solution. But as I said, I think we have very good people deciding these kinds of things. We trust completely the FIA, the FOM, so we are in good hands.
Sergio Perez: “Yeah, pretty much. I think it’s a good name to have in Formula 1, obviously but at the same time, that decision doesn’t really rely on us. So, let’s wait and see. But it will be a good name, and certainly a good team to bring on to the sport. See what happens in the end.”
Liam Lawson: “Yeah, in my situation I think, yes, it could definitely help, obviously having more cars on the grid for racing, but it’s something I’ve never really thought about because it’s always just been 10 teams like this. So yeah, honestly, I don’t really know. I think, specifically for someone like me, yes, it can help make their step in Formula 1.”
George Russell: “I think Formula 1’s the pinnacle and we want to see quality competition so I’m not for, I’m not against, but definitely if there were to be an extra team it’s got to be a quality outfit, one that can add to the sport. And we want to see competition, in an ideal world you want to see all ten teams fighting against one another. So I’m sure F1 will come to the best conclusion and answer whatever it may be, but we’ve got to have quality over quantity. But as I said, I don’t feel strongly.”
Esteban Ocon: “I think it’s great to see that there’s so many interests for Formula 1 at the moment and that the sport obviously attracts a lot of new partners, a lot of big names in general, but I don’t know what the future would hold. As George said, F1 of course we will come to a conclusion soon so we should know pretty soon.”
Oscar Piastri: “Yeah, as George and Esteban have said, it’s up to F1 now to decide. I think it could create opportunities for younger people coming through but yeah, as George said, it needs to be a team that is going to bring value to the sport of course, so yeah, it’s up to F1.”
James Vowles: “My thoughts are very clear. Williams is against the addition of an 11th team. And very strongly against. But I’ll explain the reasons behind that and why. My responsibility is to 900 employees within my company. If you go look at Companies House, you can go look it up for Williams, we’ve submitted it now, you can see that we’re lossy. We’re very lossy. In fact, compare it from ’21 to ’22, you’ll see that losses are in the tens of millions more. Compare it to ’23, which you won’t see but I’ll guarantee you, it’s multiples above that. The reason why is we’re investing in this sport, to become better. We believe in where the sport is going, we believe in the direction of travel of the sport. In order to do that… the reason why is we actually have, I think, a sustainable entity for once. Teams are working more and more together, we have close racing as a result of things – but it should be known that this isn’t just us that are not financially stable. I’d say probably half the grid aren’t.
“I think the addition of an 11th team is a sensible thing – but only at a point where the 10th team on the grid is financially stable. I’m fortunate to have owners that really believe in what we’re doing and to invest in what we’re doing – but we need to take care as a sport to make sure we look after that. Everyone says we’re in a good place – we are in some regards, but now those facts down the line, that this is tens of millions, or, in fact, hundreds of millions you’ll see shortly, being invested to make the sport better, it becomes very clear why we’re very careful about diluting what we’ve already got – because it’s just more losses on the table. Now, we’ve been clear from the beginning, more than happy to bring in new entities, but the pie has to grow as a result of it, not shrink, and so far it’s just shrinking. For clarity on that, that’s not against either Andretti or GM, quite the opposite.
“I welcome GM open-armed, and Williams welcomes GM open-arms and I hope to forge a relationship with them, should things not work out. They are an incredible entity that I think will make the sport better. So, it’s not that we’re close-minded to more people coming into the sport, but what we’re very careful on is protecting the sport we have right now. I don’t think it’s impossible, because you’re looking for… I think all of us have said the same thing. What we’re looking for is that pie to grow significantly enough that we’re not losing money or losing elements but gaining as a result of it and there is opportunity to do that. And the FIA did everything correctly.
“What they’re looking at is does that individual have sufficient money, sufficient facilities behind them in order to do a good enough job, and that was all certified and signed off and that all makes sense. What I’m now talking about is an individual with 900 people’s responsibility on my shoulders, what needs to be there which we’re yet to understand or see, which is how does the pie grow from this so that I’m not having to ask my board, my owners fundamentally for even more money again, because right now, that’s the direction of travel and that’s our concerns.”
Andrea Stella: “Well, our viewpoint is coherent with what we’ve been saying so far on this matter. If the entry of an 11th team is additive to the sport, then we see this positively. And checking whether this is additive is the duty of the FIA and F1. And at the moment, we just trust the work that these institutions are doing.”
Frederic Vasseur: “It’s not a secret that I’m not a big fan. That when we opened the door to an 11th team in the Concorde Agreement last time, it was for good reason, that at this stage Honda said already that they would leave F1 and Renault was on the edge. It mean that we had only Mercedes and Ferrari confirmed for the future. And we opened the door to an 11th team in case of they could bring something substantial to the F1 – and I think at this stage that was mainly the engine. As James said before, all the teams on the grid they made a big effort… We have to keep in mind that three or four years ago we had almost half of the grid quite close to the bankruptcy and we have to avoid to be arrogant that F1…
“The life is a cycle and we don’t know what could happen before 2030. And I would think that we would put F1 in a tough situation for this. Except, as Andrea said, also, except if the new entrant is bringing massive added value to the F1. And I didn’t have access to the CEO of Andretti but I think it’s the first question: what is the added value for the F1? We have already a 10th team who is American with Haas. We have an American driver on the grid. And the question for me is around this. What could be the value?”
Peter Bayer: “Just to try not to repeat what has been said. I think that first of all, looking at the process, which I know a thing or two about, I think we have to remember that the FIA when they kicked the process off it was be expected that one team might actually be chosen, because as far as I remember, the regulator is purely doing technical analysis of the finances and I think they’ve done a very thorough job on that without knowing the dossier of Andretti. And you can compare that to the tyre tender, you know. You have companies applying to supply tyres and then the FIA will do the check on they can supply tyres.
“But then I think that’s the big step ahead now, it’s handed over to Formula 1 to see how to integrate this team into the grid on a commercial basis. And I think I agree with what has been said. You know, I remember before the cost cap has been introduced, we had three team owners who actually called us and we had discussions back then about, you know, that they can’t sustain this sort of investment any longer. We had Racing Point going into administration in 2019, I think, ‘18? You will tell me, it shouldn’t keep guessing! And, and so I think that needs to be kept in mind, really. And so, yeah, I would probably follow my colleagues.”
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