Formula 1

Our verdict on F1's firm snub of Andretti's new-team bid

9 min read

Formula 1 hasn't just said no to Andretti's bid to join the field, it's done so with a firmly-worded statement giving its assessment of how (un)competitive it thinks the proposed new GM-backed team would be.

Though F1 turning Andretti down has long seemed the most likely outcome in this saga, the firmness of the statement - plus the slight olive branch over accepting a 2028 entry with a GM engine - still came as a surprise.

Stake

Here are our writers' snap thoughts on the decision and implications.

Shines an awkward light on some current F1 teams

Scott Mitchell-Malm

There's a Haas-shaped elephant in the room with this F1 response. Well, two Haas-shaped elephants actually.

The first is that some of the arguments made by F1 make it clear that Haas wouldn't have got an entry in 2016. It also built a car to one set of regs then had an all-new, very different car to build in its first year as well. It was also a customer heavily dependent on supplier relationships. It offered little in the way of recognition or commercial value.

And there was nothing uncompetitive about Haas's first season...

It's a different era and what applied then doesn't have to apply now but in terms of optics it's a bad look.

Secondly, the modern-day incarnation of Haas (which is really the same as it's always been and that's really the problem given how different F1 is now) means that it still falls short almost across the board in terms of what F1 is asking of Andretti.

And when you consider the growing number of teams just branded-up for commercial deals, like Stake and Visa Cash App Red Bull, you can't help but feel that allowing that to happen while saying no to GM-backed Andretti is a terrible look as well. Especially when VCARB, RB, Racing Bulls or whatever we're supposed to call that team this season is owned by an entity that already has another F1 team.

I was once of the view that these existing entities were worth protecting over a new one. I'm not sure I believe that anymore with Haas and RB (Stake is different as it's just a holding pattern before Audi, which is a very serious addition to the grid).

The bottom line is F1's rationale raises some slightly weak arguments against Andretti. But if we take them seriously they must shine an awkward spotlight on the underwhelming composition of parts of the current grid as well.

Which brings me to my third elephant - F1 really needs Haas to sell to this new American team that looks like its ownership would take F1 more seriously.

Mark Hughes

The statement could hardly have been less ambiguous in specifically letting Andretti know it was not welcome.

It lists all the reasons why not, but the most crucial one is it does not see Andretti joining bringing a net financial benefit to F1. In other words, F1’s income would be divided among the teams by 11 rather than 10 without it attracting the additional income for F1 to compensate for the smaller share.

It’s difficult to read this any way other way than F1 declaring itself a closed shop to anyone other than automotive manufacturers.

This is a bold position to adopt, legally. But the point about looking differently upon an application in 2028 if Cadillac were making its own engine makes a legal challenge tricky: would a legal challenge to the decision about a 2025 entry potentially cost any chance of a 2028 entry?

Missed opportunity for young drivers

Josh Suttill

F1 rejecting Andretti is a sad day for the championship and every young driver on the ladder to F1 right now.

A new F1 team - no matter how competitive - is a fantastic chance for any young driver to get their dream shot.

Rejecting a viable F1 team reduces those already scant opportunities.

Your absolute elite prospects will still probably get a shot but having the grid down at 20 cars means your more leftfield prospects don't get a look in.

While it likely would have been a Renault customer initially, there was a strong likelihood Andretti would have been able to make its own driver decisions.

And from the drivers it had already been linked with pre-F1 rejecting the bid, it's likely to have been different drivers from those who will be on the 2025/26 grid.

They'll join those lost drivers of the rejected 2010 teams (think a glorious return for Jacques Villeneuve at Stefan GP and Jose Maria Lopez and James Rossiter's deserved F1 debuts with US F1).

WHOLE SAGA IS EMBARRASSING FOR F1

Matt Beer

Regardless of the merits or shortcomings of either Andretti's bid or F1's stance over what it would take to earn the 11th place on the grid, this whole very public saga has just become a messy embarrassment.

Andretti has come across like it's trying to strong-arm its way into the field inelegantly, but it probably cannot be blamed for that or for thinking that a well-known American name with a manufacturer on board and a decent track record elsewhere in motorsport wouldn't have too hard a time getting an entry.

The way its bid has fallen into the thick of FIA/F1 crossfire and the consequent perception of F1 and its teams snubbing a valid new-team applicant ends up being a terrible look for the championship as a whole.

That hint of a different decision over a 2028 GM-engined entry doesn't help either. How appealing is that likely to be to either Andretti or GM in the context of such a blunt snub now?

And there seems little chance that today's F1 ruling will be the end of it all either.

F1's missed a trick for an injection of excitement

Megan White

Andretti's entry was a rare opportunity to inject some excitement into an increasingly stale series.

With ever-longer calendars and Red Bull’s seemingly eternal domination proving a turn-off for fans, F1 has been clutching at straws trying to create hype - see sprint races and the Las Vegas Grand Prix’s over-the-top opening ceremony, for example.

The number of street circuits has increased, the frequency of quality overtakes has decreased, and more and more races just feel like filler amid a rare interesting grand prix on the calendar.

There won't even be many new drivers to cheer on in the next few years, because the existing ones have all signed long contracts with their existing outfits - see Lando Norris at McLaren and Charles Leclerc at Ferrari.

Adding an 11th team would have added something genuinely new and exciting - the opportunity for chucking two new drivers in the mix and giving fans a new underdog to root for. With an ever-increasing American fanbase, surely a second US-based outfit would prove an even bigger draw?

Sadly, it looks like fans will have to settle for the same old gimmicks of street circuits and muddled sprint formats instead of being given a real reason to keep tuning in.

Greed ruling out a 'proper' racing team

Glenn Freeman

Andretti’s recent record in IndyCar might not be stellar but this is a proper motorsport entity that wants into F1.

It’s not some mysterious organisation that’s just appeared out of nothing like so many previous F1 entrants that have then made very hard work of making the grade or just rapidly collapsed and vanished.

Obviously as a new team Andretti will be at or near the back at the beginning. But its motorsport background and history should be evidence enough that it isn’t going to suddenly lose the stomach for the fight after a tough year or two or be content with failing indefinitely.

F1 isn’t looking at any of that. All it sees is the threat of a pie being cut into 11 pieces instead of 10. And all while some of the entities that are currently entitled to one of those 10 slices really aren’t doing much with - or particularly adding to - the supposed ‘value’ that is threatened by an 11th entry.

This is a case of greed winning, a flawed system and a bad look for F1.

F1's franchise system makes criticising this move bizarre

Jack Benyon

I really don’t understand why people continue to be surprised that an Andretti F1 entry has been rejected in its current form.

Especially because, the country Andretti comes from - America - effectively invented the successful sports franchise model that F1 aspires to and kind of does now operate even if it's not defined using that word anywhere, at least that I'm aware of.

The upsides of the franchise model are that there’s control over image, supposedly effective governance and relatively equal value for all the participants in a ‘high tide raises all boats’ collective gains situation. If the league/series/championship is doing well, values rise.

The downside is it becomes a relatively closed shop. It takes a very big scandal or an even bigger sum of cash to buy an NFL or NBA team, for example.

This pseudo-franchise model F1 has adopted is no different. It’s clear Haas brings no more to the F1 grid than Andretti would, but it was there before F1’s boom and is therefore protected as part of that journey to prosperity.

Admitting Andretti would mean diluting prize money for the protected current teams. Why would they agree to that?

Andretti wasn't bringing enough to the table to compromise the franchise model, without GM as a full manufacturer right now.

F1’s decision is understandable, but so is the ire of its fans

Samarth Kanal

Formula 1’s decision to block Andretti’s bid to enter the 2025 championship is understandably upsetting for fans. That doesn’t mean it’s a nonsensical decision.

A 2025 entry would mean Andretti would have to build a car that conforms to a mature set of regulations. By that time, other teams should, and probably would be, well ahead of Andretti.

Having an 11th team enter the series and immediately struggle at the back of the grid would make for poor optics for F1 – and that’s after Red Bull’s domination, which is already chipping away at F1’s audience numbers.

In blocking Andretti’s bid, F1 also pointed out that the Andretti name would not add value to the championship. It does seem sacrilegious to dismiss the weight of a name like Mario Andretti – one of the sport’s most versatile, personable, and greatest champions – but his name probably (and unfortunately) doesn’t carry the same weight as it did in the '90s.

F1’s reasoning that the championship would add more value to Andretti than vice versa does stand scrutiny.

F1’s decision puts pressure on other teams that could also be seen as lacking value, and it raises the barrier to entry to this already exclusive club.

Shareholders and stakeholders will probably be sighing in relief. This is a decision that has been taken from a commercial point of view. And it’s a decision that will only add value to existing Formula 1 teams and the product itself.

Fans will argue that it’s a decision based on greed. They’re right.

The only silver lining is F1 opening the doors to a possible GM entry in 2028.

WILL WE EVER GET AN 11TH TEAM?

Charley Williams

It’s one thing to be told no, but F1 has insulted Andretti with this embarrassing and brutal rejection.

It’s been a long-term goal for the Andretti family as they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into their F1 dream. Work on a new facility in Indiana, which they hoped would be the home of their new F1 project, is underway. Getting General Motors on board was the icing on the cake.

Neither party is a novice, and the Andretti name is a staple in American motorsport history. Michael is a former F1 driver. His father, Mario, was the 1978 world champion.

And yet, that still wasn’t enough.

F1 feels that Andretti would not be competitive against its rivals, and would gain more from F1 than it would give.

But it begs the question: if an established motorsport outfit like Andretti has been rejected - will an 11th team ever happen?

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