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FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has continued to support Andretti's F1 bid (Image Credit: FIA)
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has continued to support Andretti's F1 bid (Image Credit: FIA)

FIA President: “need a reason why” Andretti should be turned away

FIA President issues statement supporting bid from an outfit that has yet to win the grace of F1

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The row over Andretti’s F1 entry continues to rumble on.  FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has now thrown his support behind the bid in a public intervention. 

Andretti's intent to join the grid as part of the FIA's drive for new teams has received a lukewarm reception from the grid. (Image Credit: @formula1.com)
Andretti’s intent to join the grid as part of the FIA’s drive for new teams has received a lukewarm reception from the grid. (Image Credit: @formula1.com)

Andretti’s bid to enter F1 has been met with pessimism by the teams for the last two seasons. Owner Michael Andretti has taken new approach to turn the tide of opinion. After the FIA announced it would investigate new teams to join F1, Andretti announced its intentions to tie up with General Motors and Cadillac to enhance its chances.

No public concerns were raised by F1 at the announcement, however, President Ben Sulayems’s recent tweet condemning supposed negative reaction indicates F1 is still wary of Andretti’s entry. The FIA President has become the most vocal support for Andretti as it chases a a place on the grid.

Speaking during a press conference at the Dakar Rally, Autosport quotes the FIA president as stating that new team entries form part of the “sustainability of the sport”. He added that up to 12 teams can be on the grid in the future: “Today there are two sides of sustainability. There is sustainability of the environment, and there is sustainability of the sport. If you want to sustain the sport, you have to open it to the rest of the manufacturers. And to us, we are allowed to have 12 teams on the grid”.

Showing further support, Ben Sulayem highlighted General Motors’s position as an engine manufacturer, stating “we should be encouraging them to come to Formula 1”. He added that he “needs a reason why” the sport would not welcome Andretti or General Motors:

“To have a big company like GM, which is one of the top five in the world, we should be encouraging them to come to Formula 1. That is the way I would like to see the future: having an OEM in with sustainability.”

“An OEM would really push the sport further. I just need a reason why if it’s not that we should be welcoming.

“Due Dilligence” test for any new entry

Continuing his defence of Andretti’s potential entry, Ben Sulayem said he is open to smaller entries as well as those with backing from a large engine manufacturer. His says his target is for an 11 team grid:

“Every single partner there [in F1], or stakeholder there, should be welcoming an OEM, especially from America. You have three races there [in the United States], and we don’t have maybe a racer, a driver, and for sure we don’t have an OEM. I welcome anyone to fill up the 12 [spots], but proper teams. We have accepted good teams but also smaller teams, like Haas and Sauber. I hope that this will change, and we will be able to have a proper team on the grid. It will be odd [to be] at 11, and not 10 or 12. But we’ll see.”

The FIA President was also quick to state a “due diligence” check will take place for all teams interested in joining the sport:  “There is the due diligence. There is a process, we wait, and it goes. As an FIA or a president, I didn’t say yes [we approved it]: we opened it. So let them see. “Are they going to succeed? Will they tick the boxes? Will they be able to be there? We cannot just go and rely on what’s going on, we have to look for the future.”

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