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Is Eleven a Crowd? The Implications of Having Eleven F1 Teams

Written by Meghana Sree, Edited by Debargha Banerjee

Image Credits: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Bigger, better, faster. In recent times, this seems to be the prime formula for Formula One as they focus on a larger scale of races, improved execution, and swift management. With the sport gaining immense popularity, F1 has been making changes to accommodate a growing fanbase and keep the action flowing throughout the year. Increasing the number of races each year has been a crucial part of this endeavour. Another key element is the potential increase in the total number of teams on the grid.


Having eighteen teams seems quite absurd right now, but that’s how the first season of F1 in 1950 went underway. This number has slowly dwindled over the years and presently, having ten teams has been the longstanding norm; with 2016 being the last time we saw more than ten teams on the grid. However, this could soon change, as an increasing number of potential constructors are all vying for a spot on the grid at the pinnacle of motorsport. According to the latest Concorde Agreement, 12 teams are permitted to compete at a time, and the FIA and F1 seem to be broaching the topic of reaching this limit.


Andretti, Porsche, BMW, and Audi have all been making moves to link up with F1. Audi already has their foot in the door by partnering with Sauber to replace the current Alfa Romeo team in 2026, with Sauber’s contract with the Italian Marque ending at the end of the current season (2023). This still leaves way for two new teams to enter the championship, although realistically, we can look forward to only one additional team, thereby bringing the tally to eleven F1 teams.


It seems a simple enough procedure for a new team to enter. Pay the $200 million, manufacture a chassis, and source in the human resources. On paper, it sounds straightforward but in reality, it is anything but.


First and foremost, all the involved parties will have to be on board with a new team, including the FIA, F1, and existing teams.


Stefano Domenicali has recently been on record stating: “If the contest is growing — which is what we can see today — I think ten teams are more than enough to create the show or the business and the attention that we want to see on the track.”


However, he hasn’t completely left out the possibility of a new team and has left the discussion open for the future, especially with the current Concorde Agreement expiring in 2025.


With Andretti being one of the forerunners in the race to become the 11th team, several teams on the grid have vehemently pushed back, including Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull, noticeably the top teams of the sport.


One of the major reasons for this strong opposition is the dilution of the prize money fund in case an 11th team is added to the mix. This directly limits the profit of other teams due to an addition to the number by which the prize money is divided based on the finishing position in the Constructors’ Championship.


Fred Vasseur, Ferrari’s team boss, made his stance clear: “My position is that the ten teams that made huge efforts even when it was tough to be on the grid, and to survive for some of them, now if we have to welcome another team, it has to be for mega good reasons.”


Toto Wolff shares a similar view and also points out the impracticality of accommodating an 11th team: "We haven't got the logistics [of] where to put an 11th team.”


This includes not just having space on the pitlane for the new team, but also the time, money, and space for marketing and media activities. Newer paddocks like Las Vegas may not have a problem but for narrower venues like Monaco, lack of space could definitely prove to be more of an obstacle.

Image Credits: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Moreover, the race weekend format could take a direct hit with the addition of two more cars on the grid. Qualifying sessions have been notoriously tight due to the larger cars these days. Cases of impeding could only increase with 22 cars on track at the same time trying to get the fastest lap in. A possible solution to this would be the one-lap qualification sessions of the 2000s. However, it would be difficult to have teams agree to such massive changes in the qualifying format, especially considering changing conditions and track evolution that could be an unfair advantage or disadvantage to drivers.


With all these drawbacks such as cost, logistics, and safety, there is still some silver lining. The introduction of a new team could pave the way to identify more upcoming talents in not only racing, but also mechanics, engineering, management, and so much more. Those waiting in the wings could finally have a chance to shine and help build a team from the ground up in Formula 1.


It certainly doesn’t seem impossible to witness the introduction of a new team in F1 soon. With each day, potential teams are becoming more and more hungry to have a place in the glitzy, glamourous world of premier racing, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives. A new F1 team could be expected as soon as 2026, and now it’s simply a question of how the sport will adapt to accommodate such a change. Formula 1 has always been a dynamic sport, and it will undoubtedly be interesting to see how these circumstances will play out and influence the world of racing.


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