Formula 1

The Andretti Formula 1 Team is in trouble. Toto Wolff’s Power

Andretti Global, a company led by the Andretti family, applied to the FIA for a spot on the 2024 Formula One grid in February of this year. The announcement was warmly received around the world, particularly in the United States, where American fans had hoped for a team to cheer on after Haas sold its soul to the Russians. However, six months later, the process is still in doubt, and current F1 team principals are less than enthusiastic about allowing the Italian-American family in. Mario Andretti, on the other hand, isn’t having any of it. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has somewhat become the unofficial leader of the opposition, claiming it was questionable for a new team of Andretti’s caliber to add any real value to F1, per various reports. Others have expressed similar sentiments, but Wolff’s popularity and power within the F1 community have exacerbated his stance. “Andretti is a great name, they’ve done exceptional things in the United States, but this is sport and this is business,” Wolff told GP Fans. “We need to know what you can offer the sport, and if an OEM or multi-national group joins Formula 1 and can demonstrate that they will spend X amount of dollars on activation, marketing, and distribution in various markets. “We have ten franchises that we hope will increase the value, and you are not going to increase the value by issuing new franchises to people who are incapable of increasing the overall value of Formula One,” Wolff added. Andretti responded to Wolff’s remarks by tweeting, “This needed to be said; it’s about time.” No, Andretti was not referring to Wolff’s remarks, but to a tweet in which someone asked if “Wolff was too powerful for F1?” While I understand the former F1 champion’s feelings, it’s worth noting that Wolff is far from alone in this regard. Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur recently expressed his own viewpoint, which was even blunter than Wolff’s. “I don’t want to speak about Andretti because it’s not personal, but I’m not sure it makes sense today to add another team doing the same things as the others with no significant added value,” Vasseur told Racer. “Do you think it makes sense for us to open the door to someone like Porsche who wants to join F1 and do it on their own? In this case you say ‘Yes, for sure’, because it would add huge value to the paddock.” Given the gigantic $200 million “anti-dilution” fee Andretti would have to pay current F1 teams, it seems F1 bosses are whining about the very rules they’ve agreed to. But how could this happen?! (Sarcasm.) Also, any new team would be ineligible to receive any share of FIA money for several years—just ask Haas. The way it stands, teams are angry that F1 will have more teams to share its money with, even though they are the ones getting the $200,000,000 and the new team won’t actually take any of their money for a long time. As Vasseur said, it’ll ultimately be up to F1 and the FIA to make a decision, but he’s just not sold on the deal. And despite F1’s popularity surging in the U.S., he doesn’t believe another American team would do F1 any favors. “In the end, it will be up to F1 and the FIA,” he told Racer. “But I don’t think added value can come from the nationality of a team. One of the biggest markets of F1 today is The Netherlands, and we don’t have a Dutch team, we have a Dutch driver.” Got a tip? Email us at [email protected]