Wolff not convinced a new team would be a net gain for Formula 1

2022 Miami Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff isn’t convinced that allowing an 11th team into Formula 1 would add sufficient value to the sport.

Michael Andretti and his world champion father Mario are seeking to enter the series with a team of their own. Wolff said he can see the potential value of bringing a new, American team into F1, but isn’t convinced it would justify the cost to the existing competitors.

Speaking alongside McLaren’s Zak Brown and Alpine’s Laurent Rossi in today’s FIA press conference at Miami International Autodrome, Wolff pointed out bringing a new team into the sport would come at a cost to them.

“So many things have been said around an American entry,” said Wolff. “On the pluses, I’m sure that if we have a true American team with an American driver, that would be very beneficial.

“But we have 10 entries today. We divide the prize fund amongst those 10 entries. We have invested considerable amounts over the last 10 years. Each of the organisations that are sitting here on the podium has probably put more than a billion into their 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?”

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Under F1’s rules, new entries are required to pay a $200 million “anti-dilution fee”.

Andretti is seeking to enter Formula 1
“An 11th team means a 10% dilution for everybody else,” said Wolff. “If one is able to demonstrate that, then we should all be sitting at the table and cheer for such an entry. But that hasn’t been demonstrated yet.

“That may sound a bit dry because it comes down to the numbers, but the value of Formula 1 is that it’s a limited amount of franchises and we don’t want to dilute that value by just adding teams.”

Brown backed Wolff but it also sympathetic towards Andretti’s bid. “We’ve got 10 great teams and an 11th and 12th team need to add value to the sport,” he said.

“Obviously the Andretti name has a huge history in Formula 1 and 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 a year, two or three, I think we we can’t accept teams like that.

“But a very credible racing team with a credible brand with the right resources I think is additive to the sport. And that appears to be what Michael has put together. So on that basis, we are supportive.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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29 comments on “Wolff not convinced a new team would be a net gain for Formula 1”

  1. This attitude is exactly why we need another team. And Andretti is not Life or some clowns that are going to just put in half an effort to get a check.

    1. @dmw I couldn’t think of a better team to enter and I really would like more cars and drivers on the grid. Like you say, they’re not here on a whim, they have a proven history. No team should decide if another can enter.

      I used to respect Toto even if I didn’t agree with him but he’s become too political for me to stomach. I get that this line is in the best interest of Merc but he used to show he understood the bigger picture. It feels like he’s running for an election these days every time he opens his mouth, dead, dry party lines coming out. Feels like someone stole his soul and only a flesh puppet remains. Rip.

      1. When Toto says what all the teams are saying in private, he is been selfish and does not understand the bigger picture, I think he knows the bigger picture alright. Put simply, an entry of any new teams will almost certainly mean income the teams receive now having to be shared with the new team. All teams including Red Bul are against that for obvious reasons. The financial knowns for running a new team either from start or as a buy in is already known, and better still the financial cap means an entry has a good chance of competing. The “killer” could yet be the downpayment of $200 million required for a new entry. What F1 does not need is another team entry failing miserably after lagging at the back of the grid for years and in doing so destablising the whole f1.

  2. Possibly the most selfish thing said by a competitor in a team sport.

    Or is money the only thing of interest here.

    And even from a business perspective it is hardly fair to create some kind of ring fenced multi-opoly.

    In the 1970s there were so many entrants for many races they had to pre-qualify.

    Wolfs position seems to have no consideration for the other drivers or fans. I would love to see 15 teams in the sport.

    1. It’s business, if they reduce prize money sharing it with new teams, some day in the not too distant future F1 would see new versions of HRT or Manor (if new teams are under funded or not successful), or see old teams go the way of Lotus and Arrows.

  3. I really dislike Toto Wolff.

  4. This is one thing where the teams should have no say

  5. Didn’t Toto buy himself into the sport? He seems to revert to his ‘banker speak’ far too easily

  6. I’m not surprised that Toto would defend his teams’ own interest. What shocks me is that he’s allowed have a say, and potentially a decisive one, in the matter at all. Its not healthy for F1 to allow the teams to gatekeep out new, fresh competition.

    1. YEah, it is no great surprise @ciaran, but a bit awkward anyway since those investments he brings up 1.) help the team be valuable already 2.) will more or less have to be matched by any new entry to be able to have a shot at a decent result as well and 3.) we have that “anti delution fund” that any new team will have to put money into before they can even “cost” any of the current teams any money, exactly because of the things Toto brings up.

  7. Corporate organisation doesn’t want competition. A dog bites man story.

  8. Would love for two additional seats to be opened up for incoming talent to have a better chance of getting a drive

  9. puneeth bharath
    7th May 2022, 17:49

    Why is toto wolf or any other team manager allowed to have a say on fresh entries..

  10. I’m pretty sure the prize fund will only be distributed among the top 10 entries regardless of how many teams there are, so the only way a new team comes at a “cost” to Mercedes is if they somehow finish last in the constructors’ championship, by which point Wolff will have long since cut his losses and run away anyway.

  11. You don’t want new entries becuase it means having to share the prize pot.

    Shove off, Toto! Shove right off!

  12. Great bathroom grimace in that photo. Would love to see Andretti in there. I don’t get why they have such a hard on for the two VW rebranding exercises, but not for an American team with a lot of history behind it. Continue to increase F1’s popularity in the States. More money in the end for all these greedy wretches.

    1. Well it’s the best point. As a biznis man Wolff should understand that that Andretti grows the pie by more than the 10 percent he gives up. But they probably see VAG with their billions as a more sure option and probably as less likely to scandalize the paddock with American sparkling wine at Sunday brunch.

  13. It soooo triggers my ´yeah, so?’ part in the back of my brain. Any added team, already knowing it will be a serious attempt by new folks because of the 200 million, will be a good adding to the grid. Another thing to brag about if you beat 10 instead of 9 teams. More participants equals more variations in the possible outcome of events, more characters in the ‘story line’, more potential appeal to new fans of the sport. Especcially if it is an American team. Overall, for the sport i would love if an American teams succeeds.

    Reply moderated
  14. The entry fee should be WAY lower than it is. This “sports as an enterprise” BS has worn real thin real fast. Call me old-fashioned, but I wish it was as simple as paying a race-by-race entry fee of around 200K euros, posting a qualifying time fast enough to make the field, and racing. Pennies, I know, but motorsport is at its best when it’s an open competition. The appeal of it is that anyone (with the cash) can join in, but that can’t happen if so you’re asking 200 million dollars of every potential newcomer.

    Raising the barrier to entry into the stratosphere kills what little chance there already was for an 11th, 12th, or even a 13th team to show up. Everyone who’s interested sees the price tag attached to just filing the paperwork and decides not to bother. It costs more to freaking BUILD an F1 car under the budget cap than it does to pay the dang entry fee. That doesn’t sit right with me.

    1. Having watched NASCAR buy into this concept not long after professional cycling (UCI) bought into the concept, I can understand that team owners want value to their commodity. However, in neither other instance are teams allowed to decide who or how many can participate, as those decisions come from the governing body (UCI / NASCAR). This right here is what’s wrong with F1.

  15. If we listened to turkeys, we wouldn’t have Christmas…

  16. I don’t think there’d be too many out there who think fewer cars on the grid is a good thing. The Andretti name back in F1 would be incredible for the sport. I can’t imagine they’d be trundling around 3 seconds behind the next slowest in the pack. I really hope they can make it happen. It certainly sounded promising from what Mario was saying in commentary!

  17. So if an 11th team brings more money to the sport, that’s okay then? so the each share of the prize is similar to now… Isn’t that the reason behind the anti-dillution 200 million dollars? if not, what is it for?

    If it was a shady team no one knows, fine.. complain… but Andretti entering F1? his team has participated in racing series all over the world, often sucessfully. America has a lot of very capable, well funded teams and Andretti Autosport is one of them.

  18. Once again shows his true colours. An 11th team is the absolute minimum F1 needs to get back to. Let’s get a 12th and 13th team whilst we’re at it – as the rules permit.

    More cars = greater jeopardy = better racing

  19. It’s a net gain for fans, particularly paying spectators watching cars go round.

    More teams means cars more to watch for the same money.

    More cars means more opportunities for drivers to live their dream in F1, potentially from more countries and backgrounds broadening the appeal of F1.

    Toto Wolff knows these things but as it wouldn’t benefit him enough, doesn’t mention this.

  20. Damn, with this attitude I wouldn’t mind F1 indeed keeping only 10 teams on the grid, with Andretti replacing Mercedes. Shame on you.

  21. It sounds like he’s trying to make the ludicrous $200m anti dilution payment seem like a bargain by ridiculously pushing for it to be $200 billion.

  22. Mid-field team boss afraid of competition. Movie at eleven.

    Reply moderated

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