There's room for three more teams until 2026.
The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, more commonly known as the FIA, has received orders from its president to find more teams who want to enter the F1 World Championship. Mohammed Ben Sulayem made the announcement of his surprising call to action on Twitter.
This is a complete turnaround from reports earlier in the year concerning Andretti Autosport. Mario Andretti revealed that the team was receiving heavy pushback since announcing its intentions to enter F1. Despite the odd reception, the Andrettis revealed they're pushing back just as hard and have every intention of being on the grid by 2024.
Andretti Autosport's chances suddenly seem more than likely, given Ben Sulayem's statement, though the full statement doesn't guarantee entry. Instead, he mentions launching an "Expressions of Interest" process, which is at least a step in the right direction.
If any teams are interested, they'd better hurry up. Formula 1 is regulated by the infamous Concorde Agreement. It's a contract between the FIA, the Formula 1 Group, and existing teams. The agreement is a set of rules under which all teams race, and it has only been updated eight times since it was first implemented in 1981. The current agreement will only expire in 2025, right before the F1's new regulations kick in and new names like Audi (and hopefully Porsche) join the sport.
Before a racing car turns a wheel, any new team has to write a cheque for $200 million, which is a big ask. That's usually what a manufacturer pays to retool a factory for a facelift.
It's this agreement standing in the way of most teams who want to enter the sport, which is something the 2026 regulations should finally fix.
The reason for the steep entry fee is the prize money awarded at the end of a season. More teams mean the prize money is diluted, and the $200 million is used to keep everyone happy. A new team is not making any money in the first year because they're simply getting their own money back even if they win. Oh, and a team can't claim any prize money in its first year of F1 entry anyway.
The second problem is the number of drivers allowed on the grid. While there is no limit on how many manufacturers can enter, only 26 drivers may race until 2026. With one spot almost guaranteed to go to Andretti Autosport, the Expressions of Interest panel only has room for two more two-driver teams.
Apart from the Andrettis, we don't see anyone else joining before the 2026 regulations come into effect.
The 2026 regulations were designed to make F1 racing cheaper, which is why Audi is taking over Sauber. Porsche recently confirmed that it's still searching for a partner and has not given up on its dreams yet. In addition to these two manufacturers, rumors persist that several other manufacturers, including Ford, Hyundai, and BMW, are also interested in joining in 2026.
Under the new engine regulations, the power units will be 50% ICE and 50% electric, with the combustion component driven by 100% biofuel. If Porsche enters the sport, it will likely use the platform to promote its new synthetic fuel operation, while Audi will use it to promote EVs like the RS e-tron GT. Here's hoping that the field will grow further come 2026.