F1’s Costly Club: The Steep Price Newcomers Must Pay to Join the Elite Grid

CEO of Formula One, Stefano Domenicali, reveals that prospective new entrants are facing rejection from established teams despite offering mind-boggling sums in the “almost billions” range.

While F1 may not be officially structured as a franchise system, that’s precisely how many teams, as well as the sport’s owner, perceive it. Consequently, teams already on the F1 grid are reluctant to welcome any fresh faces to the table.

Notably, the teams had previously agreed on a $200 million anti-dilution fee to dissuade potential newcomers. However, the rapid growth of the sport has prompted them to demand an increase to at least $600 million.

Earlier this year, FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem opened the door for two new teams to join the F1 grid, much to the dismay of the majority of existing teams and the F1 establishment.

Nevertheless, apart from the resistance faced by newcomers like Andretti from F1 and the established teams, the exorbitant cost of entry acts as a formidable barrier. Starting from scratch or acquiring an existing team both present prohibitively expensive challenges.

Domenicali on the Beyond the Grid podcast revealed: “If you look what has happened in such a short term, talking about the value of one team, that was not many years ago, I would say two years ago when the new Concorde Agreement has been signed, when there was the talk about what is the value of a team that has to come in F1, there was a number put on the Concorde Agreement that was 200 million.”

“Which at the time seemed unreachable, because there were teams in the past that were sold for £1.

“Now the market is offering almost billions to teams,” he adds, “and they are refusing that. Can you imagine that?

“That gives you the perspective of what we are building as an ecosystem. We are building important structure, important dynamics of which the more everyone is growing, the better and the stronger is the business platform which we are all working in.”

When questioned about his perspective on whether the sport requires the addition of another team or two, the confident Italian expresses his unwavering opinion.

“I don’t think so,” he replies, “but that’s a personal opinion, I need to say that. If you have a good show, 20 cars are more than enough. If you have two cars or two drivers fighting, the level of attention is mega. So if you have already two teams fighting, that means four cars, it’s just incredible. So can you imagine 20 cars, 10 teams are at the level where there is competition on track? It would be impressive.”

However, within the realm of motorsport, he openly acknowledges that the phrase “never say never” holds true.

“Let’s wait and see,” he says. “My ‘no’ is not against someone wants to come in, I need to clarify that because otherwise it seems that I want to be protectionist, that is not the case.

“I want to see the right one and I need to also respect the ones that have invested in F1 in the last period, because we forget too quickly the respect. Now everyone wants to jump in the coach that is very fast. But we need to be prudent, we need to take the right decision. That’s what I’m saying.”