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Herbert: Another team will only benefit the whole F1 bubble

Herbert: Another team will only benefit the whole F1 bubble andretti

Grand Prix winner and veteran pundit Johnny Herbert believes Formula 1 erred in rejecting the General Motors-backed Andretti Cadillac team for the 11th slot on the grid.

Three-time Grand Prix winner Herbert pointed out that F1 teams have always been self-serving these days led by the big three – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. But that’s nothing new for the sport.

Despite a strong lobby by the FIA and its President Mohammed Ben Sulayem to have Micahel Andretti’s bid approved after his organisation’s lengthy and thorough vetting process to ensure the new team ticked every box imaginable, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali announced on the final day of January that the Andretti Cadillac bid was rejected.

With that in hand, the “Cadillac-backed Andretti bid that F1 cannot refuse” as Ben Sulayem said was rejected! Leaving the FIA Chief and his entire organisation with egg on their faces. They thought they owned The FIA Formula 1 World Championship, but they don’t. They appear to just do the dirty work to make the F1 show go on while Liberty Media (aka Domenicali) call the shots.

But the whole sorry saga, perhaps not over with as the FIA’s reaction has been laughably limp-wristed. Have they even reacted?

Whatever the case the whole Andretti matter was punted off the radar by Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari news, the Christian Horner “inappropriate behaviour” saga at Red Bull and of course, the real deal, Bahrain F1 Testing. But we cannot let it rest.

Andretti-Cadillac? Rejected? Really? Who cares? Forget About it! Unfortunately, we can’t…

Vettel herbert raikkonen

During a roundtable discussion with reporters – GRANDPRIX247 included – hosted by Grosvenor Sport, asked if Michael Andretti’s bid to be the 11th team should happen, Herbert replied: “I think it should.

“Yes, he adds to the F1 grid, we have the name of Andretti. Secondly, it’s another two cars on the grid. And thirdly, it allows more drivers to be on that grid as well.

“The argument that seems to be brought up, is what do they bring? Will they bring more money effectively, to the party? And I think with the four races we have in the States, that’s obviously a positive thing.

“The Andretti name is another one that I think is very good for Formula 1. With Mario and even with Michael himself. I find it difficult to understand why it wasn’t allowed on. I know, there was another argument which was the money side of things, taking a little bit out of the pie, but everybody has. I think it was a bit short-sighted because I think it will bring more.

“There was always going to be the best team and there was always going to be the worst team. Doesn’t matter how you put it, even if all these cars were F2s painted like F1 cars, you’d still have the fastest team, and you’d still have the slowest team.

“It would just add another dimension to the grid, just because there are more cars on the grid, which looks better. And I think the show will only benefit from that. I hope it does happen down the line, I hope there isn’t going to be something where they give up,” added Herbert.

Is Formula 1 really the pinnacle of the sport or an exclusive club?

The cars of Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, and Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, in parc ferme why no andretti

It can be argued that it’s misinformation or ‘false advertising’ for F1 to sell itself as the pinnacle of the sport yet thwart an 11th team let alone the permitted 12 teams from entering the contest. This leads to the current ‘fake’ ten F1 teams scenario when a basic breakdown makes a mockery of the 10 F1 team smokescreen.

So much so the F1 teams themselves, led by McLaren CEO Zak Brown, question if Red Bull and VCARB (aka Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri) are one team with four cars. This issue won’t go away and will worsen the closer the four Red Bull-owned cars finish 1-2-3-4 in qualifying or a Grand Prix or, worse, both!

Tick the pair down as 1.5 teams. Beyond that, the F1 reality is three teams that have done the vast majority of the winning since 2010 – Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari – who also happen to be Power Unit suppliers whose customers are hugely dependent on their whims.

Apart from Alpine, the lone manufacturer outside the bubble who only power their own two cars, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes run the F1 show. They call the shots. Rivals united in an unwritten ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’  kinda way to keep any real competitor out

Thus by excluding potentially better operations from entering F1, they can hardly claim to be the pinnacle of motorsport they are worthy of the name Piranha Club as they are famously known to be as a collective.

Herbert: In the nineties, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams ran the show

formula one Estoril, Portugal. 18-20 September 1987. Nigel Mansell (Williams FW11B Honda) leads Gerhard Berger (Ferrari F187) Ayrton Senna (Lotus 99T Honda), Nelson Piquet (Williams FW11B Honda) and Alain Prost (McLaren MP4/3 TAG Porsche) at the start, action. World Copyright: LAT Photographic Ref:87 POR 09.

Brown ‘biting’ into Red Bull and its Junior team is a superb example of the Piranhas munching each other in their F1 fishbowl for all to see. As are the remarks and innuendos they make as they circle, ready to feed on a ‘bleeding’ Christan Horner.

With all this in the background of the interview, we asked Herbert if F1 is becoming an exclusive club, he replied: “I don’t think it’s becoming a club. It’s always been a club. It always has had that side of things. I go back to when I was there in the early 90s.

“For example, in the mid-90s, there were really three teams that effectively ran the show, which were Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams. They were the guys that had all the good tyres and did all the tyre tests.

“Goodyear, for example. And then the rest of the teams just got what they were happy with, which obviously would benefit them more than it would us when I was at Lotus for example. You know, the car would never be able to use the tyre in the same way.

“So it’s always been there are the main teams that always sort of dictate what happens. As things have gone on of course rightfully so in my personal opinion, the FIA has become more important because you’ve got to have someone who will run the show.

“They get criticized a lot. But the teams play a lot of games to try and benefit from certain roles that might come into play, or certain incidents that have happened along the race track. And they try to manipulate that sometimes.

Herbert: F1 always has a fascinating way of finding a way to make things fit and work

ben sulayem domenicali-andretti power struggle

“I totally understand why they do that,” said Herbert. “We go back to the Christian and Toto, Max and Lewis fight for the championship and all that crazy radio communication that was going on there. So they will always use every element to try and benefit themselves.

“To stop another team coming in is a prime example of that control they’re trying to have, which I totally get and understand. But there is the wider view that I think a lot of people would like to have and see more cars on the racetrack.

“I don’t see there’d be a problem. I know. Sometimes they say, there’s not enough pit garages. But there are enough garages. You’d have to be slightly shifted around to make another car or get on our car or another team or to another team coming into onto the grid and it wouldn’t be a problem.

“F1 always has a fascinating way of finding a way to make things fit and work. I hope it’s something that will come to the fore down the line because I think another team will only benefit the whole F1 bubble,” reckoned Herbert.

The problem is that bubble is too big right now with F1 booming and team prices skyrocketing. With reports that Audi’s much-vaunted F1 foray in 2026 in doubt, perhaps Andretti will have a door open by buying the VW-owned company’s share in Sauber to give life to Michael’s F1 team dream.

But that will not be an 11th team that the FIA have pushed for, nor the 12th team F1 is entitled to have. Remaining at the current fate ‘ten teams’ will hardly be a victory, instead, it’s an opportunity missed by the sport and its ‘owners’ as Herbert pointed out above, and from it we can deduce who really runs F1.