FIA president tells Andretti ‘go and buy another team’ in surprise F1 entry U-turn

Henry Valantine
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Andretti.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem has now said Andretti should 'buy another team' to get onto the F1 grid.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has advised Andretti Cadillac to “go and buy another team” to join the F1 grid in a surprise U-turn from his previous stance.

Ben Sulayem had been at the forefront of the call to expand the F1 field, launching the Expressions of Interest process in 2023 to ask for proposed entries to add new teams into the sport, but he now believes the grid is “not about the number, [but] about the quality.”

FIA president advises Andretti Cadillac ‘go and buy another team’ for F1 entry

Andretti partnered with General Motors brand Cadillac to produce an entry that passed the FIA’s benchmarks to make it onto the Formula 1 grid, but the entry was rejected in January after talks advanced to Formula One Management.

Several team principals have voiced their opposition to expanding the grid, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner commenting over the Monaco weekend that the “natural solution” for Andretti to join F1 would be to buy an existing team.

The existing Concorde Agreement between the teams, the FIA and FOM allows for up to 12 teams on the grid, with new teams required to pay a $200m entry fee to join – though with talks ongoing over the next Concorde Agreement, reports suggest that fee could end up as much as trebling after a hugely successful period for Formula 1.

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As for the FIA president, while he had been a proponent for expanding the grid in previous years, saying at the announcement of the Expressions of Interest process that “conditions are right” for such a moment, he now explained his reasons for Andretti-Cadillac to buy an existing team – with others on the grid “struggling.”

“I have no doubt FOM and Liberty [Media] would love to see other teams as long as they are OEMs [original equipment manufacturers],” Ben Sulayem told Reuters.

“I would advise them [Andretti] to go and buy another team, not to come as the 11th team.

“I feel that some teams need to be refreshed. What is better? To have 11 teams as a number or 10 and they are strong? I still believe we should have more teams but not any teams. The right teams.

“It’s not about the number, it’s about the quality.

“Without mentioning names, there are teams which are struggling…struggling with performance, struggling even with management.

“It’s about having the right team, not to lose a chance or an opportunity where someone like GM with a PU is coming to Formula 1.

“Imagine the impact. We have three races in America. We have such a huge fan base.

“But we don’t have a proper [U.S.] team. I’m so happy to have Ford in [with Red Bull from 2026] but imagine having GM and imagine having American drivers.”

Despite their F1 entry being formally rejected, Andretti have continued to press on with their F1 plans and last month opened a UK base in Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix.

Last week, the team announced the arrival of Pat Symonds, the widely respected technical boss who won World Championships with Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, in what has been seen as a major coup for the project.

Symonds will begin work with Andretti after serving a period of gardening leave with Formula 1, where he had worked as chief technical officer, overseeing the move to ground effect cars for the F1 2022 season, since 2017.

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