Why Formula 1 is becoming a closed league and must put Audi ahead of Andretti

Stefano Domenicali’s position on the Andretti team’s candidacy went somewhat unnoticed on June 2, and the lack of reaction that followed said a lot about the scope of the sport that the championship promoter and the ten stables in place wish to define for the next few years. « If someone wants to come, it has to be really important »had warned the Italian CEO of Formula Group, during the forum « The business of F1 », organized by the Financial Times and Motorsport Network, in Monaco.

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Stefano Domenicali had rejected in another way the advances of Michael Andretti, bearer of the project for a new US team by 2024, explaining that the plateau had returned to a very good level of profitability after a period of recession, which had almost won two or three teams, including the historic McLaren. « They’re really, really strong. It’s a big reward for them. They’ve invested in us, and from there I think the community should be respected. », had insisted the Italian, former boss of Scuderia Ferrari. In short: there is no question of bringing in an 11th team, unless it represents undeniable added value for the sport.

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Haas, the model not to follow anymore

In short, Michael Andretti had been asked to put his project back in its boxes, despite fruitful discussions with the International Automobile Federation and the Renault engine manufacturer. The former pilot may have accused the blow. He did not speak on this end of inadmissibility, while time is running out for him.

Andretti is a name that counts in the world of motor racing and Michael, son of Mario, the 1978 world champion, is ready to put on the table the 200 million euros claimed by the ten teams of the 2022 World Cup (20M€ for each) as a dilution of the profits of the sport, in order to compensate for the entry into the running of a new team. A kind of toll for the unserious suitors and a pretense too, because if Andretti would indeed bring compensation in 2024, the problem of the loss of earnings linked to the sharing of income at 11 instead of 10 would arise in 2025.

The fact is that the teams have gone through difficult times in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic and they are no longer willing as before to bring in a team like Haas. Seven years after its integration into the world championship, it has not progressed from the operational point of view nor really gained its independence: it acts more than ever like a satellite of Ferrari by subcontracting the design and the evolution of his single-seater, entrusting the construction of his racing car to Dallara.


The choice of Audi will condition the future of Andretti

In 2016, Haas was welcomed with open arms by Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s former commercial rights manager, for a very simple reason: Manor was close to disappearing – which was effective at the end of the season – and it was necessary to ensure a 20-car world championship in 2017 in order to respect the agreements made with the promoters of Grands Prix, who pay the price of the field on this basis.

Today, the owner of Formula 1 and the teams judge that the Manor or even Haas-type model has been out of date, and that the only possible additional value to the championship is that of a major manufacturer. Audi in this case, declared as a newcomer to F1 in 2026 by the voice of the president of the Volkswagen group, Herbert Diess, on June 2.

By firmly rejecting Michael Andretti’s advances for the time being, Stefano Domenicali is keeping all the doors open for Audi, which obviously has not yet decided between buying an existing team – the Williams obviously remains the only possibility – or a creation. By accepting Andretti’s registration in 2024, Formula Group would indeed be exposing itself to making the manufacturer on the rings its 12th team in the world championship in 2026, which would call into question the ecosystem of Formula 1…


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