The FIA has thrown out three bids for a new F1 team, but Andretti-Cadillac isn't one of them.
The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has reportedly rejected three of the four applications it received for new Formula 1 teams. According to Motorsport-total.com, Andretti-Cadillac is the only applicant left standing. The American outfit has allegedly reached the final stage, which will be the toughest of all.
The FIA officially started the process of adding new teams to the grid in January 2023. It started with an Expression of Interest and has slowly crawled ahead in the background of a Red Bull-dominated F1 season. We now know that four teams applied, and it shows just how tricky it can be to join the grid.
Hitech Grand Prix and Carlin Motorsport wanted to make the leap from Formula 2, but both were shot down. These are not two dodgy outfits. Hitech is a well-known Red Bull feeder team, while Carlin's previous drivers include Vettel, the younger Rosberg, Ricciardo, Russell, Sainz, Tsunoda, and Norris.
The third rejected entry from an entirely new outfit called LKYSUNZ. According to a statement on its LinkedIn profile, the Asia-based team secured $1 billion in funding and hoped to join the grid in 2026 when the new engine regulations come into effect. Apparently, the rejected teams received their Dear John letters three days ago because LKYSUNZ said that it would be willing to pay an entry fee of $600 million to compete in Formula 1.
It goes on to make other claims about bringing more youth and diversity to the sport, but the undertone is there for all to see. If a new team joins the grid, it has to pay a $200 million dilution fee to ensure the existing 10 teams don't lose millions in prize money.
Formula 1 awards prize money according to where a team finishes. Williams is a great example of the impact this prize money can have. It has been last or second to last for several years, but it's currently in seventh place.
The difference between seventh and last is literally worth millions, which Williams can then invest directly back into the team to get itself even higher up the grid next year. Now imagine a new team coming in and giving all the midfield teams a proper hiding. It would push everyone down one spot, and they'd lose millions. That $200 million dilution fee is there to keep that from happening, as it would be distributed amongst the teams. A new team is not even eligible for prize money during the first year.
The FIA has said several times that new teams would be good for the sport, and the current regulations allow for up to 24 cars on the grid. But the biggest pushback has been from Formula 1 and its CEO, Stefano Domenicali. This entity consists of the owners of the brand and the various teams.
The various F1 teams have been very vocal about not wanting an extra team, but the biggest voice against it has been Toto Wolff, who even went as far as saying that it could make qualifying even trickier than it already is.
Formula 1 finds itself in a catch-22 situation. On the one hand, it wants to enjoy the influx of money it has received since the sport finally found favor with Americans. The sport is now so prominent in the USA that the country hosts more Grands Prix than anywhere else. But it's also on the verge of alienating that very audience by giving Andretti-Cadillac a hard pass.
Obviously, Andretti-Cadillac wants to get in on the game for the same reason as everyone else. Caddy wants to promote its performance and electric vehicles. Saying that the Cadillac Lyriq uses the same battery technology as an F1 car is a marketer's dream.
And while Haas is technically an American team, it only has a logistics office in the USA. The entire operations team is located in the UK, along with most other F1 teams. Most teams are UK-based. The only outliers are Ferrari and Alphatauri (Italy) and Alpine, which is in France. The sport needs a real American team, with an F1 car built in Indiana by people called Bob, Jack, Andrew, David, Olivia, and a Karen or two to keep everyone in line.
To our eyes, the European elite looks scared. They're afraid of Ford Vs. Ferrari 2.0, and instead of rising to the occasion, they're hiding behind a wall of paperwork and regulations.
The Andrettis have been equally vocal about the F1 status quo. Michael Andretti called the teams greedy but also confirmed that he had some allies on the grid. It seems the French were happy to have an additional rival, but that view may have changed along with its management structure.
Zak Brown has been the only constant supporter of an 11th team who has been vocal about wanting to grow the sport. We think he's a good sportsman who doesn't back down from a fight.
Whatever the case, a final judgment call seems imminent, and it's about time. The Andretti family first announced it wanted to join F1 in February 2022. This whole thing has been dragging out for far too long.