Formula 1 | Questions about the arrival of a new team in F1
The FIA’s decision to launch a call for tenders to field an 11th team (or more!) in F1, coupled with Andretti’s now-demonstrated optimism to make their arrival in F1 concrete, was something to marvel at.
Indeed, many comments in recent months – most notably from the FOM – have indicated a desire by governing bodies to limit access to the sport and maintain the 10 existing structures a priori. those who
A gear shift in a new team?
Although Andretti has been more or less banging the drum at F1’s door for several months now, Stefano Domenicali has really shown a closed, if not deaf, attitude to the demands of the American structure.
Here’s what they still had to say last summer: “When it comes to Formula 1 teams, it doesn’t have a quantity problem. Andretti’s very loud and public approach to trying to break into Formula 1 may not be the right way to go. There is no question of surrendering to a bigger or louder voice, there will be others – Andretti was quite vocal in his request, but there are others who say things differently and do not push. »
When asked about the Andretti rumors last November, Stefano Domenicali was more or less skeptical, saying that Andretti would bring little added value to the FIA: “The first thing we have to think about is whether this possibility will add value to the championship. If I say, having one more team is not a problem, there is a lot of interest. But if it leads to better races, we will. If a really amazing new team wants to talk to us, we’re open to talking, but we’re not in that position right now. »
Two main criteria for a new team to enter F1
Stefano Domenicali then mentioned the two main criteria of the sport to welcome the new team. The new structure itself must be financially sound, but at the same time it must bring something to the sport in terms of added value: “When we talk about Formula 1, we need a really solid, really strong and incredibly long-term fully committed entity, team or manufacturer. Today, I honestly do not see the need for this increase, which is very valuable for the sport of Formula 1. “I don’t see any weakness in the number of teams in Formula 1.”
Obviously, if the 11th team reduces the income of the other 10, it will also increase the size of the pie to be shared by conquering new markets.
But here: the situation has now almost completely changed. Michael Andretti boasted to the media shortly before the official FIA tender call: “hope” a “A nice Christmas present” in “The next few weeks.”
Such a relatively unexpected turnaround in Andretti’s situation raises at least three questions. Let’s review them.
Is there a difference of opinion between FIA and FOM?
First question: Are the views between FIA and FOM really and fully compatible? We have previously mentioned the rather questionable positions of Stefano Domenicali, the head of FOM, who is in charge of F1’s commercial activities, without being completely shut down.
However, it is the FIA that has issued a tender to open up F1 to other teams. This raises a legitimate question: could the FIA have forced the FOM’s hand by announcing a tender on its own? As the organizing federation of the championship, it could be legal to do so. This would not be surprising given the recent spat between the FIA and the FOM (see our article).
In fact, last November, Stefano Domenicali also mentioned that any call for tenders would be launched by mutual agreement between the FIA and the FOM: “In terms of the value or process associated with a team being able to be in the championship, there’s certainly a first step that we and the FIA have to agree on for that.”.
So, assuming that the agreements between the FIA and the FOM are followed (one can hope!), the theory of the FIA as a single driver can thus be ruled out.
Andretti, a project that will ultimately bring great added value?
The second question raised by this turnaround: how well would Andretti fit the profile of an ideal candidate to enter F1, according to FIA and FOM criteria?
Let’s take the criterion of financial stability first. It certainly would. Andretti’s arrival will be financed by the 1001 group (a financial services company that already sponsors the IndyCar team through the Gainbridge brand). The owner of the American baseball team, the LA Dogers, would also be related. It was he who would finance most of the anti-dilution fund payment ($200 million) paid to the other teams and the construction of the new plant (about the same amount). In addition, Andretti has a solid base in the United States and already has a well-stocked reservoir of human resources, especially thanks to its experience in IndyCar.
As for the added value Andretti will bring to F1, there is no doubt about that either. Indeed, while F1 is trying to develop as a priority in the United States, especially with the 3rd Grand Prix in Las Vegas this year, what could be better than one of Uncle Sam’s (Andretti) most iconic teams? ) to attract the attention of more than 350 million American consumers?
It’s worth noting that Haas is currently struggling to really capitalize on its status as an American team: moreover, the team is based more in Banbury and Maranello than in the US. Last May, Günter Steiner also admitted that Haas was struggling to capitalize on its status as an American team. The fact that he cheated with a Russian sponsor (Uralkali) a while ago and painted the livery in the colors of the Russian Federation certainly didn’t help…
By bringing in an American driver (soon to be Colton Herta), Andretti would further contribute to the development of the sport in the US – where Williams’ new title driver, Logan Sarceant, is still a relatively unknown name in the US. .
In short, Andretti would certainly contribute to the reduction of F1’s revenue… but also increase the overall revenue of the sport by contributing to the growth of turnover in America in general and the US in particular.
So the two criteria set by Stefano Domenicali would have been fulfilled – maybe the Italian would have been aware of it, or maybe he agreed with the arrival of new guarantees, who knows…
But all of this assumes that Michael Andretti isn’t psychologically bluffing when he’s convinced that some very good news is coming his way; Although Andretti has already invested heavily in developing the F1 project, it is still uncertain (including the construction of a new seat).
A call for tenders aimed more at Porsche?
So the third question: the FIA and FOM are targeting Andretti less than a major manufacturer like Porsche (or Ford? or surprise?) by opening the call for tenders.
Toto Wolff summed up the common argument in the paddock last September: when a manufacturer knocks on F1’s door, especially one as prestigious as Porsche, it’s not the same as an independent team knocking on its belly, however brilliant it is. Dancing in F1: “If a team comes with a new engine manufacturer and says it’s their project, of course that’s a completely different situation and it’s going to lead to different considerations. That’s what it’s all about for me as a team owner. If the cake is larger, it is better to divide the cake. (…) If a world-renowned brand like Porsche invests its marketing resources in the activation of Formula 1, we will all benefit. »
However, Porsche finds itself orphaned in an F1 project after Red Bull poached Porsche to take part in the Milton Keynes team’s engine project and Sauber formed an alliance with Audi. The way out may be the acquisition of AlphaTauri, a team that is currently losing its meaning… but recent reports are conflicting about the intentions of the new owners.
If Porsche had entrusted the FIA and FOM with the intention of really entering F1 through the construction of a completely new structure, we would have better understood the opening of this call for tenders at the beginning of January: it would have been. official to welcome the legendary motorsport brand with open arms.
But this call for tenders may have every reason to worry the d’Andretti team, who deserve to enter F1 according to the criteria set by Stefano Domenicali around the world: besides, if Haas is in F1, why not Andretti?
Liberty’s balance sheet was rewarded
From there, finally, the fourth question… and what if F1 soon had 12 teams instead of 11? Honestly, it’s not the most likely scenario, but it’s not the most unlikely either.
Ultimately, this renewed appeal of F1 is a sign of the sport’s flourishing health. The first to thank are the strategists at Liberty Media, who have brought F1 to what seems to be the new for the moment with some powerful but important measures (limited budgets, new audiences, especially via Netflix, etc.). Golden age.
One man is twirling his mustache today: Chase Carey, Stefano Domenicali’s predecessor – the man who set up this new deal for F1.