stefano domenicali 2021 F1

Inside Line: Why is Domenicali being stubborn about new F1 teams?

As Formula 1 Chief, Stefano Domenicali has ticked just about every box. His take, however, on the question of more F1 teams is way off that mark and perhaps his first failure as the sport’s uber-chief; what he says is outright stupid.

In this day and age, he deems that ten teams are enough for F1. Wrong, the reality is that the sport can do with another two or three teams no matter what Domenicali and his ‘wise’ men might think. How do I know? Simply by monitoring the mood of our readers regarding the matter for the past decade. And, of course, a little common sense.

There was a time when those waste-of-time HRT, Marussia, and Caterham were added to the field. But they were minnows and undeserving of such promotion to the top flight as their disappearance proves. Bad timing, wrong teams, and an F1 entry plan that was always doomed to fail.

However, when a team such as Andretti Autosport, a hallowed name in motorsport, declares intent to enter F1 in the near future, Domenicali is cool to the idea believing ten teams is quite enough. Buying into the warped Toto Wolff led narrative which basically is: Who is Andretti?

Domenicali: There’s not only Michael Andretti

1-michael mario andretti sauber

Speaking to Sky F1 on the prospect of new F1 teams, the F1 CEO revealed: “Andretti is maybe the most vocal one. But we have more than four or five requests to consider an extra team to be a part of Formula 1.”

Currently, the ten teams on the F1 grid greedily guard their slice of the substantial F1 income pie, none keen to have an extra team (let alone two!) eating into it; hence the $200-million buy-in fee.

But Domenicali hinted that while F1 will discuss having more than ten teams with the FIA, he said it is important to “find the right strategy for the future” and, oddly, is also not convinced the sport needs it.

“I have to be very honest, today F1 with 10 teams, with the competition on the track, is very, very solid. There are complexities that need to be considered if other teams can be added. Therefore I don’t think it’s the most important element to grow F1, to be honest,” bullshitted Domenicali. (Yes, bullshit is the only verb that sprung to mind.

And too many “honests” in there amid the stupidity of that statement, ask any body-language expert.

Referring to the epic season-long battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton for the 2021 F1 title, he added: “At the end of the day, with two drivers and two teams fighting – the interest was at the top.”

Seriously he said that according to Sky!

Like having Ferrari among them would not have blown all figures through the roof like it will this year. What F1 is Stefano watching?

It is quite interesting that Domenicali is sucked into not wanting to share the F1 pie out of pure greed, and fear that they will be shown up by a new team with a big pedigree, such as Andretti Autosport.

Domenicali refers to interest from other parties to run a team in F1, would Penske or Ganassi or even Wayne Taylor Racing be on that list?

All mighty U.S.-based racing organisations that, with intent and proper funding, would be more than capable of running a top-line F1 effort. Of that, I have no doubt.

You might say what about Haas?

Until they Americanise more, they are hardly a U.S. team maximising the fact that they are that. Guenther Steiner admitted last year they had not approached U.S. companies for sponsorship! This was at a time when Gene’s project was more Russian than anything else.

Now, for the sake of this piece, imagine Penske or Andretti fielding Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward, the teams signing big-name drivers, and throw in an established driver or two eg. Lando Norris or George Russell in 2024-2025 (when the next US F1 team may break cover); in other words, proper efforts.

I predict this would break all viewership records because it is clear, and it took Netflix to prove it, F1 and America are ready to party, perhaps more so than ever before, and the addition of an American team or two would do the trick.

F1 went all over the States in an effort to peddle itself under Bernie Ecclestone’s watch, from makeshift car parks to legendary venues such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They flopped, people did not buy into it. There was no American interest because there were no homegrown driver/s or team/s.

One thing history has taught us, romancing America with many and varied venues did not work

Going to COTA, Miami, Las Vegas or even a return to Indy as F1 is now, it is unlikely to have fans flooding to the turnstiles or attract eyeballs to screens.

Put an American driver in there with a podium chance every race, and watch the viewership figures soar and for them to go through the roof, fling in Andretti and/or Penske teams and then watch it go through the roof.

That Domenicali and his Merry Men did not see this, suggests:

  1. Greed is getting the better of them;
  2. Current F1 teams control the sport;
  3. The F1 Chief and his advisors have their heads firmly in the sand.

Again it is all about money, the pie is big in F1 even divided by ten and all the others who get a cut of the action, there is plenty to go around but never enough, of course. Greed is king in F1, so why share our piece of pie?

Whereby it has to be asked: What if the pie doubled because of an extra team or two, stupid?

The attitude from F1 team bosses and Domenicali seem to be: let’s go race in their cities and tracks, hoover up all the government money with our bunch of foreign drivers, our foreign teams and put nothing back into the motorsport – not even testing young American hopefuls.

And they expect the Stateside fanbase to buy into it? Forget about it, Stefano.

2012-charlotte-may-nascar-sprint-cup-series-race-fans-flags F1 Domenicali

That Domenicali does not see a serious team effort as an asset worth pursuing is the first failure in his fortuitous reign as CEO of F1, at a time when it is booming.

Fortuituous you may ask? Yes. What has he really done but change shift at the helm since last year? The hard graft was done by his predecessor Chase Carey and Sean Bratches, they are the unsung heroes of F1’s resurgence.

They set the groundwork for Netflix, and I bet if their counsel was sought, Domenicali would be told: Next priority is USA driver and an American team at all costs, ASAP.

That F1 and its ownership are baulking at this idea is shortsighted, and does not capitalize on the fact that this year, there will be three Grands Prix in North America (including Canada) and soon perhaps four if Las Vegas happens.

And in the long-term I would even go for a fifth: return to Indy and do it properly this time. But long before that, we need American interest on the F1 grid.

Without American drivers and teams fighting for top honours in F1, U.S. fans won’t be interested

colton herta photo F1 Domenicali

It’s obvious they will not find the same attraction as they would if Newgarden or Herta were in the mix for a win at this weekend’s Saudi Grand Prix; one in an Andretti and the other in a Penske, with Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes in the mix…

Furthermore, American teams and drivers in F1 would open a massive and untapped sponsorship market, even attract a manufacturer or two? Ford, Chevrolet? Who knows?

Stefano is ignorant and foolish if he does not see this. He and his inner circle should wake up and smell the real money. Or at least do independent research rather than buying into the Wolff-led narrative questioning the value Andretti would add to F1, or more teams for that matter.

To that, I say take a hike, Toto Wolff. If “Who is Andretti?” is really your stance, you have no racing in your blood, it’s all about the money.

F1 should be laying out the red carpet for Andretti, enticing Penske to follow them. Anything less does not have the interests of our sport at heart.

To Domenicali, I ask… How can a smart man like you be so ignorant when it comes to this?

And say: Wake up as you are doing the sport a disfavour being a puppet of the naysayers. Get out of your spin-doctored bubble regarding this matter, do your own research and be your own man Stefano. Or at least use basic common sense. (This is an opinion piece)

[poll id=”17″]