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Formula 1

F1 snubbing Andretti now would be a terrible look

by Ben Anderson
3 min read

Formula 1 saying no to Andretti now would be a terrible look for the championship as a whole, almost regardless of how that answer might be justified.

F1 has been quite clear that it wants manufacturer teams that are signed up for the 2026 engine regulations and/or manufacturer-backed projects that are prepared to invest in/buy-out one of the existing 10 teams - while those existing 10 teams are all fairly consistent in insisting any genuine new entrant needs to pay through the nose to even get in, AND be a fool-proof bet on bring in buckets more cash for everyone else to share.

Of course, the FIA isn’t really interested in all that - provided Andretti has sufficient funding to be a proper, sustainable team rather than an embarrassment to F1 then have at it!

It’s a neat way to turn up the heat on F1 and the teams, which of course haven’t had the easiest relationship with the current FIA regime.

If you turn down an outfit with proven motorsport pedigree, which also has the backing of a major car maker behind it (even if that manufacturer is not building an engine straight away), it's almost as good as saying no new team would ever be good enough to enter.

A Cadillac-branded Andretti doesn’t look much less viable a proposition than Dorilton-backed Williams does, or Ferrari customer Haas does, or even staunch independent constructor McLaren does.

All Andretti lacks by comparison is an F1 legacy beyond what Michael and Mario in particular did as drivers. If Haas can enter F1 and do what it’s done, it feels instinctively like Andretti could even be a step beyond that considering the added General Motors weight behind it.

Even the ‘everyone will be left with a smaller slice of the pie' anti-Andretti commercial arguments will be a hard sell to the public when F1’s calendar is relentlessly expanding, there's an established cost cap and everyone is talking up the American-powered commercial boom.

A new team, with new drivers, and all the associated excitement and interest that will inevitably bring - especially with such serious names behind it - is exactly what F1 needs now it's entered an unfortunate phase of chronic predictability.

So it's almost impossible for F1 to say no, to an American team especially, without it looking like it doesn't really believe in its own mission to expand and grow as a proper, inclusive, progressive and genuine sporting competition.

F1 and its teams made a load of noise during the intensely challenging COVID-disrupted period about how they all came together for the common good and put F1 on a better and more sustainable path.

But now F1 is out the other side of that situation, refusing entry to a credible 11th team would look awfully like a return to the bad old days of protectionism and self-interest - essentially placing greed before sport and saying your 10 teams which are meant to be the cream of the crop in the most competitive motorsport in the world are basically scared of a little extra competition.

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