Team bosses on accepting 11th F1 team: ‘Like turkeys voting for Christmas’

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff and Christian Horner looking glum in the pre-season press conference. Bahrain F1 February 2023

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner looking glum in the pre-season press conference. Bahrain February 2023

As potential F1 teams await word on their applications to join the grid, Christian Horner says accepting a new team and diluting the prize pot is “like turkeys voting for Christmas”.

Back in January, Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, officially opened the application process for a new team to join the grid by 2025 at the earliest.

The guidelines for the applicants included proving they were “seeking to participate at a competitive level” with the FIA also looking at a number of aspects including funding, technical capabilities and personnel and experience.

While a lot has been said about Andretti Cadillac wanting a place on the grid, earlier this week the Asian based LKY SUNZ team told they’d sent in their letter of interest and are now waiting to hear back from the FIA.

But while the exiting 10 teams don’t have a say in the process, both Mercedes and Red Bull – along with others – are concerned that including an 11th team would dilute not only the product but also the prize pot.

“First of all, we have no say in this,” insisted Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff. “If we’re being asked… Our opinion is being asked. But we’re not part of the process of choosing a team or not.

“The opinion that we have expressed is that it’s very difficult in Formula 1 to perform. It has taken us many years to be where we are.

“We’ve gone through really difficult times where Formula 1 wasn’t the blockbuster it is today, and therefore whoever enters the sport, I think it would be beneficial for all of us if they can really bring something new to the show.”

Laying out his criteria, he continued: “If it can help us to increase our audiences or if there is lots of marketing dollars that are being invested, similar to what we have done over the years. Red Bull and Mercedes, sitting here, I mean, hundreds of millions.

“And if that were the case, I think we need to be all open-minded and say how can we contribute to making that happen? But again, we’re not part of the governance.

“So I would very much hope that we find someone, if we decided to go for another team, that somebody can really leverage what we have today and make it even greater.” recommends

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That’s a sentiment echoed by Red Bull team boss Horner, who has previously raised questions about who is going to pay for an 11th team.

Today’s regulations state that every team involved in the sport will receive a share of the prize pot whereas in yesteryear it was only the top 10.

Having asked back in January “why should we dilute our element of the prize fund”, the Red Bull team boss says that’s a question he still wants answered.

“I think the issues remain the same as 12 months ago, both fiscally – what is the incentive for an existing team or franchise to accept an 11th entrant – and then ultimately, who pays?” he said.

“I mean, if it dilutes the income of the 10, it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas. Why would they do that? You know, are Liberty prepared to pay and fund an 11th team? Are the FIA prepared to reduce their fees to help accommodate it? So, you know, there are all the financial aspects.

“But I think beyond that with the way that the sport has now developed, if you look at the pit lane, for example, here or somewhere like Monaco, Zandvoort, or some of the circuits that we’re now racing at, where would we be able to accommodate an 11th team?

“I think that in itself, just operationally, where do we put the motorhomes? Where do we put the support? Where do the trucks go? I just think it would be an incredibly difficult thing to be accommodated with the way that the sport has currently evolved as well.”

F1 chief Stefano Domenicali spoke about new team’s entry fees last month and hinted at that increasing.

He told the media that the “so-called anti-dilution payment was done at $200 million, just a couple of years ago. Because at that time no one would have expected that the value of this business would rise up so much.

“Today the situation is totally different, for sure. And it’s our duty to make sure that we protect the business the best way that we can, and have a bigger picture.”