FIA president delivers bad news to F1 teams trying to block Andretti bid

Sam Cooper
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and the FIA’s Mohammed Ben Sulayem

Toto Wolff has been vocal in regards to Andretti but has been told he does not get a say.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said the F1 teams have “no power” over Andretti joining and that it is a decision for the FIA and FOM.

Formula 1 teams have been the biggest opponents to Andretti getting on the grid with many of them concerned that another mouth to feed will have a negative impact on their own profits.

Regardless of their opinions, they officially do not get a vote but FOM is always going to be keen to get them on side.

FIA and FOM, not F1 teams, have final say over Andretti

As of right now, it appears as if you have the FIA in one corner and the F1 teams and FOM in the other when it comes to Andretti with the latter two being much less inclined to make room for the American team.

It is an issue that threatens to bring tension to the FIA-F1 relationship but the sporting body’s president is unperturbed by this, remarking that the relationship between the two was like the Vatican and the Pope.

“This marriage [between FIA and FOM]? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think the Pope of the Vatican can get married 100 times and get divorced. But we will not be divorced,” he said, as per

“Yes, the owners might change tomorrow, Liberty Media might sell. But the FIA with Liberty going to court? We will not allow it even. It’s not even for discussion.

“To me, we pick up the phone, we handle things. These small things that go are part of making the sport better.”

But on the merits of a new team, Ben Sulayem believed it would be hard for FOM owners Liberty Media to turn down.

“We can afford having another Hollywood team for God’s sake,” he said.

“The contracts are very clear. We are running now 11 teams for Hollywood. And when they are over, at that time, there will be space.

“Most of the contracts are very, very clear. It is safe to be approved and have to have place for 12. It is written.

“It’s the responsibility of the promoter and the circuit; it’s not our responsibility. We don’t interfere but that’s the rules. The rules are not only implemented by us, the rules are implemented everywhere. By all parties.” recommends

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“There are many aspects to this,” said Ben Sulayem about why he was so optimistic.

“First of all, Liberty is an American company and I read that Liberty were approving, and they were saying we would like to have another team.

“Then, looking at the share price, it went up instead of down when we declared it. That’s good for them.

“And thirdly, to say no to an American OEM. It’s very hard. On the contrary, it’s good for business.”

As for the F1 teams themselves, Ben Sulayem appreciated their concern but reiterated the legal point that they have no official say.

“I don’t think we are that cheap to have that,” he said of the potential Andretti could push on without FOM support and the logistical challenges that come with that. “I don’t think refusing a team should be: ‘We will not give you a pass.’ How childish we can be.

“We are in the pinnacle of the sport of F1. We should be serving big teams with OEMs, to bring them in, to sustain motorsport.

“But I understand the teams. They have no power over it [the decision to allow Andretti’s entry], but we listen to them because their point is also the money. It is about the money. I mean, let’s not play a game here: it is about the money.”

F1 and FOM have kept quiet since the FIA’s approval, simply noting the findings while reiterating they would come to their own conclusions.

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