US racing stalwart Michael Andretti’s bid to expand his multi-series operation to F1 has been met by fierce resistance from most of the discipline’s current 10 entrants.
Concerned teams are weary of having to share F1’s prize money with an additional competitor and feel the current $200 million dilution fund is not sufficient as the value of owning an F1 entry has significantly increased since that price was set, owing to its burgeoning global interest and the newly implemented budget cap.
But amid interest from Audi in joining, Mercedes chief Wolff believes the German manufacturer’s size and marketing power would make it a more suitable 11th entrant than Andretti, even as the American outfit has become a global powerhouse active across IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E and Australian Supercars.
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Asked explicitly in light of the uncertainty over the Andretti team’s situation whether a new entry from Audi would change the perspective of existing teams, Wolff said: “I think that whoever joins as the 11th team, whoever gets an entry, needs to demonstrate how creative they can be for the business.
“Andretti is a great name, and I think they have done exceptional things in the US. But this is sport and this is business and we need to understand what it is that you can provide to the sport.
“And if an OEM or an international, multinational group joins F1 and can demonstrate that they are going to spend X amount of dollars in activating, in marketing in the various markets; that’s obviously a totally different value proposition for all the other teams.”
Michael Andretti, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of Andretti Autosport
Photo by: Andreas Beil
Wolff says F1 wants to continue increasing its value over the coming years and thinks any new entrants must contribute to that process.
“With 10 franchises that we hope can increase the value, and you’re certainly not going to increase the value by just issuing new franchises to people that cannot increase the overall value of Formula 1,” he added.
In addition to Audi, VW Group sister marque Porsche is close to agreeing a significant shareholding and power unit supply deal with Red Bull Racing from 2026, when F1’s new engine rules come into play.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s current engine partner Honda, which has officially left F1 but has signed an extended deal to provide technical support to the Milton Keynes outfit until 2025, is considering a re-entry for 2026 as F1 shifts to sustainable fuels and a simplified hybrid. system.