While the number of teams in Formula 1 has been stuck at ten since 2017, the former driver Michael Andretti and his team (Andretti Autosport) have applied to increase that number to 11 for the 2024 season. Yet potential future adversaries to the American structure appear reluctant to welcome a new competitor, not even F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
But Andretti could still count on the support of Zak Brown at the helm of McLaren Racing. His compatriot was enthusiastic about the project and berated the team bosses “lack of insight” against this newcomer. And four months after the initial announcement, Brown is hoping Andretti hasn’t thrown in the towel. “I hope it’s not dead, I don’t think it’s dead. But it sure looks like it [le projet] encountered great resistance”he told the Sports Business Journal.
The latest Concorde Accords, signed in 2020, set the F1 entry fee at US$200 million or €190 million at the current exchange rate, which will then be split between the current teams. And although Andretti has previously claimed he has the means to shell out such a sum, most Championship players have expressed concerns about a potential dilution of F1’s value, which has soared with the arrival as its popularity has exploded in recent years a financially unstable team.
Increasing these fees has also been discussed behind the scenes to better align with the evolution of F1’s growth. While Brown acknowledged that all teams on the starting lineup had indeed increased in value over the past few seasons, the McLaren CEO was unwilling to speculate on a potential increase.
“I don’t want to comment on what I think is the correct number, but I would say that the value of an F1 franchise has increased rapidly since the Concorde Accords were signed to date.”commented Brown only. “Basically it is up to F1 to decide which number is the right one to join [le championnat] but an F1 team is worth much more [d’argent] today than three years ago.”
Michael Andretti, Mario Andretti and Zak Brown
Will Herta cross the Atlantic?
Andretti’s attempt to take over the Sauber Group, which manages the Alfa Romeo team, in 2021 could have lasted Colton Herta in Formula 1 if it had succeeded. The 22-year-old American, son of driver Bryan Herta, represents Andretti at IndyCar and has finished in the top 5 in the last two championships.
Aware of his talent, McLaren reached an agreement with Herta a few months ago to give him a taste of Formula 1 through a testing program at the wheel of the MCL35M, which will compete in the 2021 season as a rookie in at least two EL1 meetings it is a serious possibility to see Herta compete in an official Grand Prix meeting this year.
Zak Brown himself admitted that the American pilot would have done that “very good chances” to join an F1 team if his attempts with McLaren have been satisfactory. However, a place at McLaren in the near future is at risk as the contracts of the two owners, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, run until the end of 2023.
Brown added: “The potential is definitely there. If you look at his results in IndyCar, he’s extremely fast. He was Lando’s teammate in Europe a few years ago and Lando has a lot of respect for him, so he has a very good chance and.” He is fully capable of being an F1 driver. That’s why we use him.”
“If the stars are right, that is if seats are available, Colton is available and he proves to us in testing that he’s competent, which we fully expect, then I can see that in F1, whether it’s McLaren or another team. “
The arrival of an American driver in Formula 1 would also be welcomed, as Brown explained, due to the strong growth of the championship in Uncle Sam’s country and the increase in the number of races on the territory. In 2023, the F1 calendar will have one Grand Prix in Austin, one in Miami and one in Las Vegas.
“[L’arrivée de Herta] would add to the great prominence that F1 already has in North America. We’ve got Las Vegas, we’ve only done one [course] in Miami, so we’re just at the beginning of F1’s rapid growth [sur le marché américain]”he concluded.
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