In the beginning of this year, the regulatory organization for motorsport asked possible new teams to indicate their desire to join the F1 lineup starting from 2025 or later.
The assessment of these applications is currently in progress, involving multiple teams such as Andretti-Cadillac, Hitech, Formula Equal led by Craig Pollock, and LKY SUNZ, who have publicly expressed their aspirations.
Other squads, including Rodin Carlin and an entry from Asia, were also linked to potential F1 bids.
However, the decision to increase the F1 grid size has not been well received among those in the grand prix paddock. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali expresses doubt regarding the necessity of expanding the number of teams beyond the current 10.
Additionally, opposing teams themselves are not enthusiastic about the possibility of having an increased number of vehicles on the race track.
They have publicly questioned the commercial implications of needing to share their revenue with extra parties, as well as logistical issues relating to the number of pit garages available.
Ben Sulayem remains unfazed by the uncertainties surrounding the new team entries and firmly believes that both he and the FIA have made the correct decision in their endeavor to increase the number of cars participating in the race.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport’s affiliated website Motorsport-Total.com, Ben Sulayem stated that they have a contractual agreement allowing for a maximum of 12 teams. Therefore, they are not in violation of any regulations but rather adhering to them.
As a regulator, the FIA is responsible for reviewing all requests, which we have done. Expressing interest was the appropriate course of action. I understand that certain teams may be displeased due to the potential financial consequences they may face.
“Does it involve incorporating a new team or must they acquire an already existing team? It is not my place to dictate terms to large teams. However, what we must focus on is the procedural aspect, as well as conducting thorough assessments of the financial and technical aspects.”
Andretti is one of the teams that has registered interest in joining F1
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz / Motorsport Images
The initial deadline for evaluating the applications was set for the end of June. However, this schedule has been delayed as the FIA aims to guarantee a comprehensive examination of all the submissions.
There is a chance that a decision may be made soon after the F1 summer break.
“We decided to extend it due to requests from certain teams, as we wanted to ensure their inclusion,” stated Ben Sulayem.
“We need to remain adaptable. Our task is not yet complete as we must exercise caution when reaching a decision.”
I prefer not to be hurried as the decision needs to be extremely clear, considering it is a complex procedure.
When questioned about the timeline for a decision, he responded by saying that it would not be too long. He estimated that it would take approximately four to six weeks. The reason for the delay is to ensure that the decision is made correctly, considering the significant investment involved from various individuals.
“We simply need to be patient for the next six weeks to observe the forthcoming plan. I am confident that FOM will make the correct decision as they are well aware of what is best.”
Ben Sulayem stated that there were approximately five to six applications submitted, with “three or four” of them being highly significant.
The FIA is nearing a decision regarding the new teams, and the potential consequences are extremely significant.
Sources have proposed a potential situation where one or two of the new teams may be deemed technically qualified to join F1, but fail to secure entry due to the inability to reach a satisfactory commercial agreement with FOM and the existing teams.
Critical to the approval of a new team is the level of the anti-dilution fee that should be paid to other teams to compensate them for a potential loss of commercial rights income.
The current amount stated in the Concorde Agreement is $200 million, however, it is proposed that this amount will be increased to up to three times its value in the future.
If any of the new F1 teams that are interested are denied at this advanced point, it may lead to the possibility of legal consequences. Ben Sulayem acknowledges that this is a potential outcome.
Sulayem expressed concern about the possibility of one of the applying teams taking legal action against us if we reject them.
“I am not the focus here. My role is simply to enforce the rules.”
Not enough space
An 11th team has already been at some F1 races this year, with filming for Brad Pitt’s new film
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Many of F1’s existing tracks face a practical problem with the new teams as they lack sufficient garages to accommodate them.
There have been suggestions that safety concerns may arise during qualifying sessions if there are over 20 cars on the track simultaneously.
But Ben Sulayem has rubbished such suggestions, as he says that the presence of the Apple F1 movie featuring Brad Pitt, which has its own garage at certain races, shows what is possible.
“I cannot reword”
Asked if current circuits were big enough, Ben Sulayem said: “One hundred percent. If it is 10, or 11, or 12 [teams], they have to be compliant. Our circuit commission will always be there and they will check and go through the whole process.
“I cannot reword”
“I am unable to violate regulations. I am not providing inspiration to anyone, but in the event of an application and sufficient availability, we must investigate it.”