Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari’s team boss, claimed Formula 1‘s popularity in the United States by having more American drivers and not necessarily teams.
Vasseur’s was speaking at the Team Principal’s press conference over the 2023 British Grand Prix weekend, as the subject of having an extra team was brought up, with FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem recently spoke again of the bid submitted by Andretti Global and General Motors (through Cadillac) to join F1 as an 11th team.
As it stands now, the latest deadline for potential F1 teams to submit their bids has now passed, with reports confirming two bids; from Andretti Cadillac and Hitech Grand Prix under evaluation by the FIA and F1.
Interestingly, the date a final decision can be expected remains fluid, suggesting there is quite a bit of politicking going around in the background between the FIA and F1, while teams – who officially have no say in this as per the Concorde agreement – will be lobbying hard to get their own way.
Is Andretti Cadillac a done deal?
Interestingly, Ben Sulayem speaks of the Andretti and GM submission as if it is a done deal, while Stefano Domenicali still doesn’t seem convinced that an 11th team is a good idea.
He recently said, quoted by The Race: “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 can you imagine 20 cars, 10 teams, on the level where there is a competition on the track? It would be impressive.
“I would say let’s wait and see. My ‘no’ is not against someone who 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 in that respect.
“We need to be prudent. We need to take the right decision,” the Italian concluded.
Toto Wolff has been one of the most vocal of all ten F1 team bossed about having an extra team to split the revenue pie with.
He said: “There is no mature sports league in the world, whether it’s a national football championship, or the Champions League, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, where such situation is possible, where you say, ‘I’m setting up a team and I’m joining, thank you very much for making me part of the prize fund.
“You have to give to qualify, you have to go through the ranks, you have to showcase the commitment to the championship that we’ve done over the many years.
“If everybody in the NFL agrees – the teams that own the franchise there, so it’s different to us – agrees to have another entry, to let another team in because of the right reasons, the right ownership, etc, then that team is being admitted into the championship. And the same with most of the professional leagues in the US. We are a franchise, and this is how I would look at it.”
“If (an entry bid) is creative, then we must look at it,” Wolff admitted. “So far, what we’ve seen hasn’t convinced the teams – but we haven’t seen the applications and submissions that were made to the FIA and to Stefano, and they will judge whether that is positive for Formula 1 or not.
“But in any case, from a team’s owner side, there no leagues which just increased the entries, because that just dilutes the whole league. I think if it’s accretive then obviously not,” he maintained.
An American driver better than an America team?
With F1 popularity booming Stateside, supporters of Andretti Cadillac claim their presence will drive the sport’s popularity there even more. However Fred Vasseur begs to differ, while trying to avoid the “money” talk.
“Very often we are speaking about the nationality of the team but for me, it’s absolutely not an argument,” he said. “F1 is not just a UK championship because we have 70 per cent of the teams based in the UK.
“The attractivity of the F1 is much more based on the nationality of the drivers and so it’s nothing to do with the nationality of the team,” Vasseur insisted.
His Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff agreed, he added: “The team’s nationality plays no role. We have an American team since a long time, we need to have a good points system that we attract more drivers from the US, that we make them eligible for a Super Licence.
“We need to support young drivers like Logan Sargeant to give them enough time, because like we’ve seen with Fernando in Spain, you’ve got to race at the front.
“If you’re not racing at the front your fellow countrymen are not going to follow. These are the things we have to do,” Wolff maintained.
It is quite funny though that Wolff talks about supporting Logan Sargeant, with rumors floating all over the F1 paddock that the Austrian is trying to convince Williams to let the American rookie go and replace him by Mick Schumacher.