The Formula 1 grid will stay at just 20 cars for the next few years. Earlier today, F1 revealed it has rejected a bid by Andretti Global to join the sport for 2025. The move was not unexpected; neither F1 nor most of the teams have shown any enthusiasm toward Andretti’s entry. The sport sent out a lengthy statement explaining its reasons for turning down the Andretti entry but said that “it would look differently on an application” in 2028.
It’s a blow to both Andretti and its fans, but the move also signals increasing disharmony between the FIA, the sport’s organizing body, and Liberty Media, which owns the commercial rights to the F1 world championship.
Andretti Global first announced its plan to enter F1 last January, seeing it as a natural expansion for an organization that already races in IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E, and IMSA sportscar racing, among other series. A month later the FIA formally opened an application process for new teams to enter the sport, but of the four applicants only Andretti had the backing of a major automaker behind it—in this case General Motors’ Cadillac brand.
The FIA said yes
The FIA spent several months conducting its due diligence and then in October accepted Andretti Global’s application.
“The FIA was very clear in establishing stringent criteria for entry from the outset of the Expressions of Interest procedure. Our objective, after rigorous due diligence during the application phase, was to only approve prospective entries which satisfied the set criteria and illustrated that they would add value to the sport,” said FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
“Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfils the selection criteria that was set in all material respects. I congratulate Michael Andretti and his team on a thorough submission. I also want to thank all prospective teams for their interest and participation,” Ben Sulayem said.
But these days, it’s not just up to the FIA to accept new entrants into F1. Any successful entry must also have an agreement with the sport’s commercial rights holder. Those rights currently belong to Liberty Media, and among the changes made to the sport since the sale to Liberty is that the teams each get a much larger slice of the revenue.
New entrants are supposed to bring a $200 million “anti-dilution fee” with them to offset the money the existing 10 teams would lose when the billion-dollar pie has to be sliced 11 ways. But that amount was determined before F1’s recent rise in popularity and value, and existing teams have called for it to be tripled to $600 million.
F1 says no
F1 says it conducted its review process, where it considered the value that would be added to F1 by Andretti Global’s joining, “including value to fans, the prestige and reputational value of the sport, the competitive balance of the Championship, and the sustainability goals of the sport.”
Among its considerations were how competitive the new team might be, where the team was getting its engines from, how the team might add new fans, and how an 11th team would impact the organization of a grand prix weekend. F1 says that it consulted with key stakeholders but also says it did not speak to any of the current 10 F1 teams as part of the process.