Mohammed Ben Sulayem is strongly advocating for Formula 1 to incorporate the upcoming Andretti-Cadillac team on its grid.
The FIA president has consistently been in favour of Andretti’s pursuit to be the eleventh team, possibly by 2025, with the Paris-centred body granting its official endorsement just the previous week.
The decision, however, now rests with the sport’s custodian, Liberty Media. A number of the current ten teams are voicing concerns about potential logistical issues, the possible diminution of their own value, and potential interruptions to F1’s rapid ascent.
“If Andretti had bought Sauber two years ago, we wouldn’t have a problem now,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner stated, as per the Swiss publication Blick.
It’s understood that Andretti’s proposition for the squad, currently branded as Alfa Romeo, was around $300 million, with Horner opining that “six teams are worth over a billion each”.
Seasoned F1 writer Roger Benoit points to a fresh public survey indicating a robust 80 percent are in support of Andretti’s participation.
But it’s evident that the existing teams hold reservations.
Drawing a parallel, an unnamed team leader informed Blick: “It’s as if ten breweries had set up the Oktoberfest, and now an eleventh one comes along and wants a beer tent.”
Yet, FIA chief Ben Sulayem remains optimistic that a resolution is on the horizon.
“I have 100 percent confidence,” he declared in Qatar.
“We have basically addressed all the concerns and asked the right questions to Cadillac and Andretti. “When they gave us the answers, there was no reason to refuse them.
“It’s just good for the sport.”
He recognised the reservations from the current teams but stressed: “It’s just all about the money. I can’t think of any other reason for criticism.
“But for us, it’s about the sport. You have to keep motorsport alive, while for them it is only about money.”
Some anticipate a classic power tussle brewing between the FIA, the long-standing regulatory authority of F1, and the present commercial rights holders, Liberty.
“We actually own the championship,” Ben Sulayem asserts. “FOM is doing fine, but I am actually a kind of landlord of the sport.
“It is of course logical that the teams first offer resistance, but once it is accepted by one group, the rest usually follow suit. I hope we won’t experience any unnecessary chaos during the admission process.”