Fred Vasseur: American F1 drivers are more important than American teams

Sam Cooper
Fred Vasseur on the Las Vegas pit wall.

Fred Vasseur believes drivers, not teams, are crucial to the sport’s growth.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has suggested American drivers are more important than American teams in terms of the sport’s growth in the US.

The US market has been the key focus of F1 since Liberty Media took over and with three races in 2023, there is clear proof that their plan is working.

But as always, there is room for more and the idea of boosting American audiences and fandom is what Andretti are hoping will get them a spot on the grid.

Fred Vasseur says drivers key to American growth

Andretti’s bid remains in the hands of FOM who are deciding whether they agree with the FIA’s assessment that Andretti will be a suitable addition to the Formula 1 grid.

The American family have campaigned on being able to bring extra value to the sport by becoming America’s number one team, suggesting their base will be in the US and they will have a US driver.

Technically, Formula 1 does already have an American team but Haas operate out of the UK and Italy as well.

But Vasseur is not so sure a new team is the way forward but instead suggested drivers are what will get the country hooked.

“It depends on which team is the 11th,” he said, according to Motorsport Italy. “On paper there is always room for an 11th team if the teams receive something from Formula 1. We talked about the provenance of the team, but for me it is not the right approach to the matter.

“F1 is successful where there are winning drivers. Currently one of the countries where F1 gets the most attention is the Netherlands because [Max] Verstappen is there.”

“It’s a question of the nationality of the drivers, not of the teams. Currently we already have an American team, which is Haas, and if we are talking about Andretti, I imagine that he will come with the same approach as Haas.

“If we really want to be successful in the United States, it will be more about having American drivers at the start and being successful, rather than having American teams.” recommends

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Formula 1 does have one American driver in the form of Logan Sargeant but he has failed to hit the ground running at Williams and spent the majority of his racing career outside of the US.

Vasseur was not completely against an 11th team but warned that the situation now is far different than it was when they wrote the latest Concorde Agreement.

“For me, having an 11th team and another manufacturer is fine, why not? But we have to keep in mind that, when we opened the doors to an 11th team four-five years ago, the situation was completely different from the current one.

“Regarding the Concordat Agreement, Ferrari was there, Mercedes was there. Honda was almost out. Renault thought it would continue. It means that there were two manufacturers and one engine supplier who would continue for another 5 years.

“We agreed on an 11th team, but if this team had not reached an agreement with even just one of the 10 teams present in Formula 1 and had wanted to enter as a manufacturer of cars and engines, we would have had to find a solution for the well-being of F1.

“Today we are in a somewhat confusing situation. We have 6 engine suppliers, and some of my colleagues are saying that they are too many because we would like to have two teams for each power unit supplier and we are not in that situation.

“Going back to what was said before, even for the current situation it’s not a question of the team, but of the nationality of the drivers.”

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