Fred Vasseur explains why he feels accepting Andretti does not make sense

Jon Wilde
Fred Vasseur talking to Stefano Domenicali. Red Bull Ring July 2022.

Fred Vasseur talking to Stefano Domenicali at the Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull Ring July 2022.

Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur has explained his reticence towards welcoming a new constructor into F1 that would not add “big value”.

Vasseur would be reluctant, for example, to roll out the welcome mat for a constructor such as Andretti Global, who are trying to become the 11th team in the Formula 1 pit lane.

Michael Andretti continues to await a response from the FIA to his proposal to launch a team ready to go for the start of the 2024 season. The American’s right-hand man recently said time was running out to make that happen if no FIA decision is announced soon.

One of the main reasons why the FIA are prevaricating about a decision is the reaction from the existing teams who, even though an 11th team would have to pay a $200m anti-dilution entry fee, would still be concerned about receiving a smaller slice of the revenue pie.


A frosty reception for Andretti Global

Michael Andretti is surprised with the frosty reception he received after lodging an entry.

Among the sceptics, along with Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff, is Vasseur – but the Frenchman says he would be happier if an entry was received from an organisation bringing more to the table than Andretti, for instance, are likely to.

“When we spoke about the 11th team it was three years ago,” Vasseur told Racer. “We took the example of Porsche and said ‘okay, imagine if you have someone like Porsche that wants to join F1 and wants to do it on their own, does it make sense for us to open the door?’

“And in this case you say ‘yes, for sure’ because it would add huge value to the paddock. It would be another engine manufacturer, and don’t forget at that stage we were at risk.

“So that’s why we started saying we could open the door. I don’t want to speak about Andretti because it’s not personal, but to add another team doing the same things as the others with no big added value, I’m not sure it makes sense today.

“Also, because it’s a mid-term process, a team now could join in two or three years and we don’t know about the situation in two or three years. If it had been 11 teams two or three years ago, I think two or three teams would have collapsed. And as soon as one collapses, it would be like a domino [effect].”

Michael Andretti listening to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Miami May 2022.
Michael Andretti listening to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on the grid before the Miami Grand Prix. Miami May 2022.

It has been suggested, not least by Andretti himself, that having a second American team, in addition to Haas, would help to build further the sport’s growing popularity in the United States.

However, Vasseur also harbours doubts about that.

“In the end it will be up to F1 and the FIA,” he said. “I’m not a big fan because I know where we are all coming from together, and I would say I would be okay if we know about the project, if we have information and we are convinced they would bring, and add, value to F1.

“But I don’t think added value can come from the nationality of a team. One of the biggest markets of F1 today is the Netherlands and we don’t have a Dutch team, we have a Dutch driver.”