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Andretti could finally join F1 after FIA announce the prospect of new teams

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has announced his plan to set up a new process for new teams to enter the sport

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Andretti could soon join F1 after the FIA has announced it will look into ways to ease the process for new teams to join.

Michael Andretti in the pit lane. Andretti has been wanting to get a team into Formula 1 for some time now. Credit: Motorsport Magazine

A recent tweet (on 2nd January) from President Mohammed Ben Sulayem sparked debate amongst Twitter fans. The tweet in question stated that he wishes to set up a new process for potential new teams. Ideally, this would ease the process and help any new teams wanting to join the grid.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is of the opposite opinion, recently stating that a new Formula 1 team was not a priority for the sport. However, it seems that Ben Sulayem is serious about this idea.

So, could a new team really join the grid?

Delving deeper, it is certainly possible as the rules state there is a 26-car limit, but it is very complicated for new teams to join.

One group, in particular, knows how difficult it is to join the Formula 1 grid as a brand-new team. That, of course, is Andretti Global. They have been trying to join the grid for a while now but have repeatedly hit roadblocks.

Why is it so hard?

Firstly, it costs a lot of money. Not only does running an F1 team cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year, but just joining the grid costs an additional $200 million. This figure may go up even further to align with market value.

The team also needs approval from other teams.  In Andretti’s case, the majority of teams remain reluctant to their joining as it means they will get a smaller split of the prize pot. Teams would also have a 10% reduction in any profits from Formula 1 and obviously it is an extra team to beat on race day.

Because of this, Andretti has struggled to get their entry into Formula 1 up and running. So far only Alpine and McLaren have given them the green light to join.

Past efforts for new teams

Formula 1 has welcomed more teams onto the grid in the past most famously (and quite recently) in 2010. Similarly to the ‘new-team process’ in place currently, all other teams had to agree both to them joining and to a technical support system to ease the new teams into the sport.

Ideally, Formula 1 wanted 13 teams and intended to bring in three new ones, from the 15 applications they received. The three teams on the entry list released in July 2009 were Campos, Manor and US F1.

Things became more complicated as existing teams pulled out of the sport at the end of the 2009 season, but the end result was three teams joining to make it a 12-team grid. Campos had become Hispania, Manor had become Virgin, and Lotus had also joined.

All three new entrants struggled badly, however.

Hispania ceased to be at the end of 2012. Lotus, later known as Caterham, made it to the end of 2014. Virgin, having gone through the guises of Marussia and Manor, lasted the longest – until the end of 2016 – and were the only one of the three to score points courtesy of Jules Bianchi’s ninth place in Monaco.

Nonetheless, in racing terms, all will largely be remembered as Formula 1 failures. They are often brought up as great examples of why new teams shouldn’t join the grid.

New teams in the future

The most recent addition to the grid was Haas F1 who joined in 2016. Since that season, F1 has kept to 10 teams due to reluctance from many teams and even F1 management.

With Ben Sulayem’s new idea, it might not be long before the grid expands once again. Its name at the moment is an “Expression of Interest” process and ideally it would make the process a lot easier.

Team Principals Toto Wolff and Guenther Steiner have both admitted their hesitancy at the prospect of a new team. But, they did make it clear that if the new team would provide added value to the sport then they would consider their entry.

So, Andretti could join F1 soon with this new development, but, there will still be a long and expensive process ahead of them.

Feature Image Credit: XPB Images

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