Andretti & Cadillac would’ve been a quick and obvious entry into F1 back in 2013 when Haas was accepted. F1 has changed significantly since then though. Now it’s a much bigger sport on the global stage and since the cost cap was brought in successfully [not counting 2010, when it failed], it is also now a profitable endevour. The teams can [mostly] cap their expenses, as long as your not paying crazy driver salaries and therefore a simple budget can be put in place. While a new team would have to front a massive amount of investment, and a massive $200 million entry fee which is shared to the 10 other teams, the cost is easier to swallow over time as the cost of investment is capped. In the past, teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull would pump upwards of $400 million into a single season. Which might be the first hint at why those teams specifically, are the ones who are a little annoyed at the entry plans.
So where does everyone stand?
The FIA itself is quite publically behind the entry, at the very least if we take the assumption that the FIA President speaks for the FIA.
— Mohammed Ben Sulayem (@Ben_Sulayem) January 8, 2023
This is an odd situation because the FIA seems to be fighting F1 itself, the series that they own but lease the commercial rights to. I can’t help but get the feeling that the FIA president is starting a political war with F1, as the way he’s publicly calling them out, is unusually for an organisation that is usually quite conservative with the F1 commercial rights holder.
It seems that F1 Management itself, the other organisation that need to be on board with this entry for it to proceed to the grid, seem stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side, they’re pushed to grow the sport with one type of team they know bring huge funding, manufacturers. Therefore now that Andretti have gotten Cadillac [GM] joining them, it should be a simple rubber stamping exercise, that’s their hard place. Sadly for the F1 Management team though, the rock is hitting them hard from the other side and that rock, is a collection of massive teams in F1.
Two teams that have vocally in favour of the entry are McLaren and Alpine. McLaren has strong ties to Andretti via Zak Brown and McLaren’s Indycar activities. While Alpine’s parent company Renault, who still badge its engine as Renault E-Tech, are looking set to supply the new team with an engine. Unless of course GM take the unlikely route of building an engine for 2026.
Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari though, have all been vocally opposed to the entry. The reason they give publicly is that they don’t think Andretti will bring enough added value to F1 to make up for the revenue that they would lose. Especially given the billions they’ve dumped into their respective F1 entries over the years.
Whether this is true or not, would be hard to judge given we’d need to know what sponsors and fans Andretti being on the grid would be. The more obvious reasons these teams are against the entry though, is likely the simple issue of control.
Basically, any new entry on the grid, especially one of the size of Andretti combined with GM, is likely to gain significant traction in decisions overall. Therefore this would infringe on the control that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari have on the rest of the teams, all of which [except Alpine] rely on them for engines and spec parts.
It seems to me the chance of seeing Andretti on the grid then, sit’s squarely at 50/50.