Background | Who is the boss in Formula 1?

Background | Who is the boss in Formula 1?

03-10-2023 09:50 Last update: 14:40

Ludo van Denderen

With the award of a Formula 1 licence to Andretti-Cadillac, the Americans have taken an important step towards joining the grid. It is by no means a done deal. What awaits are undoubtedly interesting times. Soon it will become clear who really has the upper hand in Formula 1: Formula One Management, the teams or the FIA?

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulaymen was in favour of the Andretti and Cadillac combination entering Formula 1 from the outset. It was no coincidence that he called on potential teams to sign up for Formula 1, right after Michael Andretti had announced that he had started preparations to start his own F1 team. From the very first moment, it was clear that Ben Sulayem - and with him the FIA - was going to do everything possible to get Andretti-Cadillac a place on the grid, resulting last Monday in the announcement that, according to the FIA, all the conditions set by Andretti had been met.

F1 teams fear loss of revenue

The enthusiasm among F1 teams was a lot less. You name it; there wasn't and still isn't. There are all sorts of reasons why the current teams are not eager to admit an eleventh team. The main reason can be summed up in one word: money. Formula 1 is currently thriving and, as a result, revenues have increased significantly. With an eleventh team added, the well-filled pot of gold should no longer be divided between 10 teams, but 11. And then also to a team that did not spearhead the exponential growth of the sport.

It is telling that no team - really zero - sent a congratulatory Tweet to the world after the FIA announced the news about Andretti? An F1 licence or not; the concern that there will be less left under the line per team with Andretti-Cadillac on the grid has all but disappeared for teams after the motorsport federation's decision. At the same time, the regulations state that after granting an F1 licence, only very weighty arguments can stop a new team from joining the grid.

The FIA, FOM or the teams in charge?

Formula One Management must now determine whether Andretti-Cadillac is commercially and sportingly interesting enough to enter F1. FOM's answer may be 'yes.' FOM says it listens to the teams' opinions, but it is not an absolute requirement that FOM follows their advice. It may be that FOM sees the added value of Andretti-Cadillac, while the teams still want a rejection. How would the F1 teams position themselves towards FOM if they wanted a 'no' and FOM still gave a 'yes'? Would they then become 'difficult' compared to FOM in other areas? The key word here again seems to be 'money.' Lots of money.

Until recently, it was assumed that a new team's entrance fee to enter F1 was two hundred million dollars. This was supposed to compensate for the loss suffered by the other teams for the reasons mentioned. Meanwhile, the story is circulating that this amount has become $600 million. Karun Chandhok, analyst at Sky Sports, came up with an interesting Tweet this Tuesday. He states that a team boss has told him in confidence that the estimated annualised loss per team in the event of an Andretti-Cadillac entry is $11 million. So if Andretti were indeed willing to pay six hundred million dollars, the teams would be compensated for five years. In that case, the main obstacle is removed, and the FIA wins. The teams will no doubt see things differently then. Which will consider itself a non-loser.