Why teams and Liberty Media are opposed to Andretti joining Formula 1
Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Alessandro Erazo
Andretti, a name synonymous with motor-racing history and recent headlines. Unless you've been living under a rock, you will know that Andretti Autosport has been knocking on the door for an entry into Formula 1. The American based powerhouse has for long expressed interest in joining the pinnacle of Motorsport, even submitting a formal request to Formula 1.
On the surface, the entry of Andretti into F1 makes perfect sense. Over the past few years Formula 1 has sought to increase its reach in the United States. Whilst F1 has been successful in that regard to a degree. One can see how an American icon like Andretti lining up on the grid would be even more beneficial. It provides the US audience with a home team to root for with a familiar face behind the wheel.
It should be a match made in racing heaven. The sporting and capitalistic propositions of such an entry are all seemingly positive. Liberty Media and F1 should be welcoming Andretti with open arms right?... right?
Well, no. Whilst the idea of an eleventh team, an American driver and the Andretti name back in F1 all seem like the right thing to do to the fans, it's not the case to the same extent to the teams.
Yes, Andretti's biggest hurdle at the moment are its opponents. Most of the teams that make up the current grid are opposed to the idea of an eleventh team and you would not need to read between the lines to see the reason. Money.
Formula 1 teams earn money through several ways. Sponsors and prize money for a team's position in the championship standings are two of the most notable ones but of course there's more. Through the Concorde Agreement teams and the Formula One group share revenue earned throughout the season.
The exact details of the most recent version of Concorde Agreement are kept in secrecy but the basics of it are Formula One makes money through ticket sales, TV deals etc, then divides that revenue between themselves and all the ten teams. A new entry into the Championship would in turn mean that said revenue would have to be divided amongst eleven teams instead of ten meaning each of the existing teams would have to reduce their share of the revenue in order to accommodate Andretti.
It is fear of this dilution of revenue that has had teams in disagreement with the new entry. Formula One does have an anti-dilution fee of 200 million dollars to be paid by new entrants but teams have argued it's not enough.
“I am sure that an American team with an American driver would be an advantage. But today we divide the income by ten. All teams have invested considerable sums over the last ten years to get there. If a new team is able to bring us more than it costs, we should sit down and talk about it. So far, that hasn’t been proven,” said Toto Wolff.
And the Mercedes team principal is not alone with Horner expressing similar sentiments. In fact only two of the ten teams have expressed vocal support for Andretti's entry, those being McLaren and Alpine. It is worth mentioning however that should Andretti enter F1 they're to use Renault engines, hence the support from Alpine who at the moment are the only engine manufacturer without a customer.
Whilst the majority of F1 teams have been opposed or unconvinced by Andretti's bid, Liberty Media has taken an interesting position on the matter which could set precedent that would affect F1's long-term future.
Liberty Media has stated that it aims to run a closed championship, a model seen in American sports leagues. This would consequently force all interested parties to invest in already existing teams with the aim being to raise the quality of the teams thus making the grid much more competitive instead of having new uncompetitive teams.
Andretti of course has no intentions of being uncompetitive and it's various efforts across multiple championships would back their claim. Team owner Michael Andretti has stated he already has a factory, drivers and the 200 million dollars required.
Convincing the teams will be a difficult task for the former Indycar Champion but not an impossible one. As Wolff stated, if Andretti is able to demonstrate that it would bring more than the 10% decrease in revenue they would suffer then negotiations can be had. And while this may seem an unnecessary hurdle to fans, it is worth remembering that money is the axis upon which the Formula One world spins.