The argument against Andretti's bid to join F1
The Andretti-F1 question will be very intriguing this season. Former world champion Mario Andretti has been eager to bring his team to the F1 grid and compete with the best in the world. The aim is, as Andretti explains, to bring American excellence to F1 and show that it belongs at the pinnacle of motorsports. However, their efforts have faced resistance since day 1.
It all started with a failed Andretti bid to buy Sauber. The next step was applying as an independent team for an F1 grid slot. By the looks of it, that did not materialize either. The latest announcement of a partnership with General Motors for a venture in F1 seems to be the last throw of the dice.
On paper, it might have looked like a masterstroke but once again the development has been met with a lukewarm response. Andretti's bid to enter F1 continues to face resistance despite a major automotive name like Cadillac associated with the team.
While certain factors point in favor of the argument of having an 11th team on the grid, others have gone against Andretti's bid to join the sport. Let's take a look at what they are.
The value dilution for the rest of the F1 grid
Let's be honest about one thing: F1 has never been this big. The sport's current scale of operation is unprecedented. It has unlocked new geographies, with races in the Middle East and the United States bringing in significant revenue.
There is talk of expanding the horizons even further in the coming years. In all of this, it would be foolish to ignore the kind of effort and impact the 10 teams on the grid have had. These are 10 healthy teams that have done their best to increase the popularity of the sport in their own way.
They've also benefitted from a far more equitable revenue-sharing model that takes care of these teams in a far better manner. In essence, the growth of the sport right now is going to help the teams reap the benefits of their efforts in the last five years.
However, if an 11th team is brought in, it will cause a reduction in what the other teams on the grid are receiving right now. The new team has to bring a massive chunk of fans and a guaranteed increase in revenue to counter that. Overall, since it's difficult to compute revenue increases when a new team enters the sport, it's equally difficult to bring the existing teams on board with Andretti's entry as the 11th team on the grid.
The lack of clarity around the Andretti-GM partnership
Another issue that seems to be doing the rounds is the nature of the Andretti-GM partnership. Is GM entering the sport as a manufacturer? If yes, why has it not registered with the FIA as a power unit supplier?
If that is not the case, then what is the nature of the partnership? Is it simply financial? If yes, then in what capacity? These questions arise because even right now on the F1 grid, Alfa Romeo is in a sponsorship deal with Sauber. The deal helps Alfa Romeo in terms of marketing, but other than the token amount given every season, there's no involvement from the Italian manufacturer.
If it is similar to what Alfa Romeo has with Sauber then it is a red flag because in that scenario GM would not be involved as well as Mercedes, Ferrari, or Renault. The team's probability of success is not too high then and it would dissuade the current 10 teams from agreeing to have an 11th player on the grid.
The FIA route and the low anti-dilution fee
For any team to join the grid, an anti-dilution fee of $200 million has to be deposited. This figure was set keeping in mind Williams' sale to Dorilton Capital for around $180 million. Since then, however, the sport has grown exponentially and even the sale of Sauber to Audi last season valued the team at around $600 million.
While the rules clearly state that a value of $200 million is the requisite for entry, the incumbent teams beg to differ and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has especially argued that the value needs to be much more than that.
Moreover, what has been slightly surprising and unfortunate is the route that Andretti has chosen. The American team has not really tried to bring the rest of the teams on board and get them on the same frequency. Rather, it has chosen a more political role with the FIA being involved.
It is safe to say that the FIA president announcing an 'expression of interest' for new F1 teams on Twitter and Andretti announcing the Cadillac partnership just a couple of days later was no coincidence. Instead of trying to be one of the teams, Andretti has drawn battle lines almost unnecessarily. Had there been an effort to sit down, discuss, and reach a resolution, Andretti's path into F1 could have been much easier.
As a fan, an 11th team is an amazing development. However, we also need to understand why there is resistance to it, if any. If we are to predict whether Andretti gets a slot on the grid, then it all hangs in the balance. As fans, we hope Andretti makes it to F1 and everyone acts like an adult and resolves the situation.