Christian Horner lifts the lid on why F1 teams are giving Andretti the cold shoulder

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner speaking during a press conference. Austin, October 2022.

Red Bull's Christian Horner speaks during the United States Grand Prix press conference. Austin, October 2022.

With only two of the ten teams open to Andretti Global joining the F1 grid, Christian Horner admits the rest it comes down to money and the “diluting” of the prize pot.

Last season Michael Andretti applied for a spot on the Formula 1 grid with the rules allowing for more teams to join the grid.

But so far he’s been blocked.

Despite teaming up with General Motors through the Cadillac brand, Andretti reportedly linking up with a manufacturer after being urged to do so by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the teams still aren’t in favour.

Andretti believes it’s “all about money” with the teams worried he’ll “take all the American sponsors” while they’ll also “get diluted one-tenth of their prize money”.

“It’s all about greed and looking at themselves and not looking at what is best for the overall growth of the series,” he told Forbes.

Horner says yes, it is about the money.

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“Look, Andretti is a great brand, a great team,” the Red Bull team boss told RACER. “Mario, what he did in Formula 1 — as an American as well — is fantastic.

“Obviously GM with Cadillac as well would be two phenomenal brands to have in the sport, and I don’t think there can be any dispute about that.”

But, he continued: “As with all these things though, it ultimately boils down to, ‘Well, who’s going to pay for it?’

“And you can assume that the teams, if they’re perceived to be the ones who are paying for it – or diluting their payments to accommodate it — of course it’s not going to sit that well.

“The two teams that are supporting it (McLaren and Alpine) either have a partnership in the U.S. with them, or are going to supply them an engine. The other eight are saying, ‘Well hang on, why should we dilute our element of the prize fund?’”

But that’s not the only issue with Horner also fearing a blow to the brand.

At present the sport has 10 viable teams, all of whom have been on the grid since at least 2016 with Haas the last team to arrive.

The team boss says a concern of his, as well as that of Formula 1’s owners Liberty Media, is that an 11th team could “dilute” the value of the existing outfits.

He continued: “On the other side you’ve got the Liberty guys saying, ‘Well we’re not going to pay for it, we’re happy with 10 healthy, competitive franchises from an operational perspective — garages, logistics, motorhomes — it’s all more to accommodate.’

“I’m sure they would prefer the Audi model, where they come in and acquire an existing franchise.

“If you introduce another one or two teams, you dilute the value of the current 10 franchises, which of course teams — particularly down towards the bottom end of the grid — have got a very inflated inherent value at the moment.

“I hope a solution can be found. What would be cleaner would be if they were able to take on one of the existing teams or franchises, but they are certainly both great brands that would be very, very welcome in Formula 1.”

Audi will arrive on the grid in 2026 having done a deal with the Sauber Group, which currently competes under the Alfa Romeo name.