FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem turns down Toto Wolff request – “We can’t accept teams like that”

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem has formally opened the floor for bids for new teams to join F1. The process will likely allow 10 new teams to enter the sport soon, with Sulayem confirming this news through a post on Twitter.

“I have asked my @FIA team to look at launching an Expressions of Interest process for prospective new teams for the FIA @F1 World Championship,” he wrote.

The update will be seen as encouraging news for former F1 driver Michael Andretti, who is reportedly keen on securing a spot on the grid for his team.

Andretti were rumoured to be primed for entry in 2024, but this plan didn’t materialise after they received opposition from some of the teams already competing in the sport.

Among those who were not keen on allowing Andretti entry was Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff said that one of his biggest fears was seeing teams like Andretti enter the sport and dilute the value of F1.

He argued that his team, along with a number of other already in F1, had worked extremely hard over the past decade to bring it to its current level.

“We have 10 entries today, we divide the prize fund among those 10 entries. We have invested considerable amounts over the last 10 years,” Wolff said.

“I mean, each of the organisations that’s sitting here on the podium has probably put more than a billion into the 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 the 11th team means a 10 per cent dilution for everybody else.”

Will Andretti benefit F1?

Toto Wolff. Credit:
Toto Wolff. Credit:

The governing body of the sport last allowed a group of new teams to enter F1 back in 2010.

All three teams that were allowed entry back then found it tough to acclimatise.

Lotus, renamed Caterham in 2012, failed to make much of a mark and finally collapsed altogether in 2014.

HRT, meanwhile, was eight seconds slower than the next worst car in its debut race and wound up operations in 2012.

Manor Marussia tasted brief success with Jules Bianchi, who claimed the Monaco GP.

They too, though, were forced to wind up operations after a failed investment.

Concurring with Wolff, McLaren boss Zak Brown explained how team would need to bring something new to the fold.

But Brown is not against the idea of allowing Andretti in. Rather, he is one of the few team bosses who believes the American outfit’s inclusion can benefit the sport.

“I agree with Toto. You know, we’ve got 10 great teams, and 11th and the 12th team need to add value to the sport,” Brown said.

“Obviously, the Andretti name has a huge history, in Formula 1, in various forms of motorsport, and I think would add a lot of value.

“So 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 year two or three, I think we can’t accept teams like that.”

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