Romain Grosjean, Colton Herta, IndyCar, St Petersburg, 2023

FOM set the bar far higher for Andretti than for recent F1 teams

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How Formula One Management would respond to Andretti’s application to enter its series was always going to be less a matter of whether it might accept them, and more how the inevitable ‘no’ would be delivered.

Since the FIA invited applications from new teams a year ago, F1’s attitude has been anything but welcoming. So their announcement today that Andretti has been rejected may have disappointed many but surely surprised few.

Almost four months have passed since the FIA, the governing body of motorsport, declared “Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only candidate to meet the stringent criteria” it set down to join the championship as an 11th team. But FOM doesn’t just disagree Andretti deserves a place in F1, it has gone much further than that.

FOM does not believe an 11th team would be of value to the championship at all. “Our assessment process has established that the presence of an 11th team would not, in and of itself, provide value to the championship,” states point eight of its 20-point explanation. Making sure no one missed that, FOM repeated the same sentence in point 14.

Reading that, it’s hard to imagine there was much Andretti could have done to persuade FOM to let it in. The rest of the explanation is heavy on assumptions about their likely performance, and claims Andretti’s entry does not meet a standard some current teams do not reach, let alone when they were admitted to the series.

The first point stated in FOM’s review of Andretti’s bid is “consideration of the likely competitiveness.” It notes: “The most significant way in which a new entrant would bring value is by being competitive, in particular by competing for podiums and race wins.”

Haas, the most recent newcomer to the series, has not reached that standard in eight years. Should they therefore not have been admitted?

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‘But what about Haas?’ would suffice as a response to a number of F1’s criteria for dismissing Andretti. “We do not believe that there is a basis for any new applicant to be admitted in 2025 given that this would involve a novice entrant building two completely different cars in its first two years of existence,” goes another.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Yas Marina, 2023
F1’s last newcomer is yet to score a podium finish
Haas’ first two cars were built to entirely different aerodynamic regulations in 2016 and 2017. Despite this, F1 seizes on the point to cast doubt on whether Andretti realised what they needed to do in order to enter: “The fact that the applicant proposes to do so gives us reason to question their understanding of the scope of the challenge involved.”

FOM casts further doubt on the feasibility of new teams entering F1. “Most of the attempts to establish a new constructor in the last several decades have not been successful,” it adds. Again, goes that mean Haas shouldn’t have been allowed in?

More to the point, so few new teams have been admitted to F1 “in the last several decades”, and the circumstances they faced were so different, there is no worthwhile basis for comparison. Prior to Haas, the three newcomers of 2010 were enticed to enter under the prospect of new regulations which never materialised, compromising them from the start. Their predecessors included a manufacturer B-team and a fully-fledged manufacturer which spent huge sums yet was gone within a decade.

The predecessor to that – 27 years ago – was Stewart, now reigning champions Red Bull.

The strongest reason FOM put forward for dismissing Andretti is their engine situation. The team was understood to have an agreement to use customer Renault power units, which lapsed. As a team without an engine supplier it would therefore have to be allocated a power unit under rules which have never previously been used. However, as Renault supplies fewer teams than any of its rivals, it would have been obliged to supply Andretti anyway.

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Nonetheless, and notwithstanding the freeze in engine development which has been in place since the beginning of 2022, FOM believes this would have put Andretti at a great disadvantage.

On top of that comes the laughable assertion the Andretti name carries too little weight among fans. If the surname of one of the sport’s 34 drivers’ champions is considered too obscure, what hope does almost anyone else have?

Again, this bar could scarcely have been set lower for existing teams. Just last week one reduced its name to a pair of letters which stand for nothing, preceded by two sponsors. For F1 to embrace ‘Visa Cash App RB’ yet spurn ‘Andretti’ is an embarrassment.

FOM’s resistance to admitting Andretti also flies in the face of its oft-stated desire to court the US market. While its statement is quick to seize on the potential downsides of expanding the grid, it makes no mention of the potential benefits of welcoming an American team which is already successful in other disciplines, which would create room for new drivers to join the grid.

If all F1 teams were measured by the same standard FOM has applied to Haas, the sport would be the better for it. But they aren’t. Liberty Media once said it wanted a “high profile US team” to join F1. It has just turned one down.

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Author information

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...

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33 comments on “FOM set the bar far higher for Andretti than for recent F1 teams”

  1. An excellent rebuttal of this short-sighted, greedy and – dare I say – anti-American ‘argument’ by FOM.

    The first point stated in FOM’s review of Andretti’s bid is “consideration of the likely competitiveness.” It notes: “The most significant way in which a new entrant would bring value is by being competitive, in particular by competing for podiums and race wins.” Haas, the most recent newcomer to the series, has not reached that standard in eight years. Should they therefore not have been admitted?

    This can be expanded to many other teams. Teams like Sauber, Williams, and arguably even Renault, McLaren and Aston Martin would fail this test as they have not shown an ability to compete for race wins for over a decade.

    1. Except Renault, Aston Martin(‘s predecessor) and McLaren all have won a race in the past few years.

      I’m disappointed in the decision and the reasonings are just made up. People who defend the decision act like teams are queueing for a grid slot but Andretti is the only one in the past many years that went this far.

      By 2028 the entry fee will be about 1 bn instead of 200 m. It’s the same franchise system NFL has. A bit difficult to take it seriously and consider it a sport. In proper sports, even in motorsports new competitors are able to join. The 107% rule decides whether a team is good enough not some subjective arguments.

      Oh and Haas also built a brand new car for just one single season. There are loads of benefits for a brand new team competing a whole season. Getting to know the tracks, the operations, the processes, politics, sponsorship, etc.

      1. True – but being in the right spot to take a fluke win isn’t quite the same as being competitive.

        Sure, they were more competitive than some of the outright hopeless teams, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement.

        McLaren winning the Italian GP in 2021 comes closest to being a genuine win, but even that was helped a lot by Hamilton and Verstappen being two overly stubborn guys when it comes to racing each other.

    2. Keith’s article is absolutely on the money. One can see right through Liberty’s shallow words.

      You would think that Liberty’s battery of lawyers could have come up with better lies and half-truths (more lies) for rejecting the Andretti application. Their incredibly lame responses would be beyond laughable if the issue wasn’t so serious.

      I can only conclude that Liberty is allowing the tail to wag the dog in appeasing the teams. The highly touted “brain trust” that is Formula 1 consistently displays its inability or unwillingness to take a long range view of the sport and ultimately what is best for them.

      It hurts them. It hurts us. And they never learn.

      By this action, they have taken a quantum leap in shortsightedness.

  2. While I am in favour of F1 being limited to 10 teams, I do agree that out of the 10 teams that are currently making up the grid, not all of them are up to F1 standards.

    I don’t really understand why Haas want to have their own F1 team. Instead, why not incorporate the Haas brand name into the Andretti Cadillac F1 team name?

    1. While I am in favour of F1 being limited to 10 teams…

      Why?

      There are 26 places available on the grid, why would you prefer to see any less cars than that? It’s like saying you’d like to watch soccer but with only 8 players on each team.

    2. I don’t really understand why Haas want to have their own F1 team.

      Given how cheaply they run it, it wouldn’t be surprising if it turns a profit.

    3. Why would you support less competitors and less seats for new drivers? How strange!

    4. I don’t even know if this is possible, but my feeling is that:

      * Gene Haas will see that Steiner is not the problem, that the team will again finish dead last and there is no point in continuing since he doesn’t want to increase the budget
      * Andretti will buy Haas F1 entrance
      * F1 will stay with their 10 teams, Andretti will eventually enter, US will have a higher profile team and everyone is happy

      1. Well, not the people who want more than 10 teams, me for example.

  3. I’d reply to the ‘Doesn’t add value’ nonsense with this.

    Any new team regardless of how competitive or not they may be is bringing 2 additional cars to the grid which creates an additional opportunity for young drivers as well as opportunities for mechanics, engineers, designers etc…

    Creating additional opportunities to help bring up the next generation of F1 talent is surely the most valuable asset of all.

  4. Well written Keith, the mockery the teams made of their own sport is somewhat astonishing to behold. Haas has no reason to be on the grid. They don’t build their own engine. They don’t construct their own chassis. They exist in part by taking in Ferrari’s strays from the budget cap cuts. They have no podiums to their name. They do have that one lucky pole position, though. Yay them.

    Of course, as you rightfully state, they never set out to answer the question “why should we not accept the Andretti team to the grid?” with this document and these reasons. Instead, they said “we won’t accept the Andretti team to the grid? How do we explain why not, because we can’t give the actual reason.” Which is, of course, losing out on a few millions extra in their bank accounts. A big round of applause for FOM and the teams both, whose greediness will forever stand in the way of the sport they claim to love.

    What a complete disgrace.

  5. Haas is the American team they need, after that FOM can’t say what they really think, which is that Mario is older than Joe Biden and Michael isn’t attractive or charismatic, nobody cares about him or Cadillacs. But so, really they’d just have been more clutter on the track. Yes it’s about money, but money is real and Liberty know about it, what we want to pay for and not

    1. Who cares how old Mario is and why does that matter? Who cares whether Michael is charismatic? Liberty doesn’t want GM to enter F1? Wow……. I really don’t understand the hate. Let Andretti in; they succeed or they don’t, just like all the previous teams.

      1. Lol it’s not hate it’s just being realistic. Old people might have been awesome when they were young but right now they’re not are they. They can’t remember things and need looking after. As for charisma, it’s on TV! Nobody needs a slob with a great dad. FOM can’t say it, but trust me if it was Emma Raducanu’s team with Elon, they’d be in

        1. It’s not about the looks, it’s about money, they let audi in cause they’re buying sauber.

  6. I’ll be honest, I really hope Andretti challenge this. My understanding is that F1 has no relation to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and as this is more of a financial/legal matter than a sporting one I don’t think it would apply anyway, but I’m sure Andretti could challenge it in a normal court of law – the only public copy of the Concorde Agreement, from 1997, states it is governed by English law with arbitration in the International Chamber of Commerce; I don’t know how this works in the most recent copy.

    I seem to recall another commenter on this site (I can’t remember exactly who, I’m very sorry!) mentioning that the last time teams (Sauber and Force India come to mind, I don’t know if that is correct) even threatened to bring the Concorde Agreement to court, FOM crumbled pretty quickly. I would be interested to see how well the Concorde Agreement would (or perhaps more importantly, wouldn’t) hold up in an actual courtroom, although this may well just be wishful thinking…

    1. Force India and Sauber complained to the European Union Competitions Commission in 2015 about the ‘division of revenues’ and the way the rules were made (to benefit the big teams) even going so far as to label it ‘unfair and unlawful’. They but dropped their case in early 2018 after the were somehow (don’t ask how*) convinced that Liberty would show a ‘willingness to debate fundamental issues such as the distribution of the prize fund monies’.

      *Spoiler: they got the money they wanted.

    2. Agree, hopefully they take it to the court indeed.

  7. Haas’ first two cars were built to entirely different aerodynamic regulations in 2016 and 2017

    True, but most people noted that the percentage of Ferrari components in the car were such that it was only a couple of bolts and a washer away, so the underlying development was already there.
    The loan staff assisting Haas development also raised eyebrows and more, so the background tech support was there.
    Oh, and do note that the Haas engine supplier wasn’t new to F1 either.

    Limitation of parts supply to other teams (like Ferrari to Haas) seemed to kick in after (or in reaction to) Haas entering, and probably limited their scope for improvement.

  8. What’s happened to F1? It’s all show and very little sport. In a period that they can’t throw enough USA based races into the calendar, they deny Andretti. Not only is this illogical but it’s antagonistic to it’s other goal.

    This is a case of FOM not wanting to dilute their dollars further by having to payout another team.

  9. Grab the popcorn, this show isn’t over.

    Add me to the list of people disgusted by this decision.

    1. I’m guessing if it was Andretti Audi instead of Andretti Cadillac we’d be looking at 22 on the grid now. And I love the FOM’s ‘concern ‘ that Andretti wouldn’t be competitive when one team won every race but one this last season. F1 is NOT competitive. Only two teams have won championships for the last 13 years! F1 has become a Vegas show, glittery, showy, but no substance. IMSA, Indycar and WEC are sooo much more entertaining. At this point, I think I’d rather watch NASCAR.

  10. Excellent write up Keith. Says it all. Thanks.

  11. The statement should have just read:

    “F1 is finally making money for the shareholders of the existing teams and we do not want to share that money with anyone. F1 is now a closed shop.”

  12. I was facing a decision. Watch the first few races of F1 2024 and bail if it is an uninteresting season, or read about the first few 2024 races and start watching if the season is good. Definitely going for the latter out of disgust. Remarkable to think WEC will have one less hypercar than the entire F1 grid whilst also running 18 GTs for the full season and LMP2 for Le Mans.

  13. Maybe it’s time to recognise that F1 is a closed championship and be done with it. Stop wasting people’s resources intro trying to join.

    On a somewhat related note, it’s unthinkable to me that Andretti cannot enter yet Red Bull is allowed to have two teams. It’s a blatant disregard to the integrity of the championship. Imagine if a Premium League outfit had a B team in the league. They should be forced to sell Torro Rosso in my opinion.

    1. Absolutely, I said it before, even more so now with fom’s reluctance to expand the grid, having 2 teams becomes a massive advantage, cause even resourceful teams like ferrari or merc wouldn’t be allowed to field new b-teams.

  14. Pathetic letter by a pathetic organization

  15. I think that they want Andretti to take over Haas. I’m not really sure why they aren’t trying that. Gene seems unhappy and surely would like to have a way out?

    1. He said specifically he isn’t selling.

    2. I prefer believing people until the opposite is proven, we have haas who keeps saying he isn’t selling and people keep saying he’d like a way out, we have verstappen saying he doesn’t mind any team mate and we have people say he would block a move from hamilton to red bull etc.

  16. If FOM doesn’t think the name Andretti would add value to the *THREE* US races they’ve jammed into the calendar with a crass crowbar, then they’re too incompetent to manage a sporting championship.

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