Guenther Steiner: ‘10 stable teams’ better than adding 11th entrant on F1 grid

Jamie Woodhouse
Guenther Steiner speaking into a microphone. Baku, June 2022.

Haas' Guenther Steiner speaks into a microphone in the media pen. Baku, June 2022.

Haas principal Guenther Steiner does not see the benefit of tampering with a stable Formula 1 by admitting an eleventh team.

2016 was the most recent season where 11 teams featured on the Formula 1 grid, 10 teams and 20 drivers having made up the numbers since then.

But with Formula 1 currently enjoying a popularity boom, this has had the effect of strengthening the allure of fielding a team, yet it is perhaps also the most difficult it has ever been to do so.

With all 10 current teams on a solid financial footing, the budget cap helping significantly in that regard, plus a $200 million anti-dilution fee for a new team if they were to join, it has become quite the challenge to start an outfit from scratch.

That has not stopped people from trying, with Michael Andretti’s ‘Andretti Global’ project pushing for approval to enter Formula 1 from 2024, this meeting resistance from much of the grid.

And Steiner does not believe that Formula 1 needs to take the risk of expanding the grid, even though there is space in the Concorde Agreement to do so.

“As FOM [Formula One Management] always says, first of all, everybody thinks we are the people, the other teams, who decide what is happening,” said Steiner on the Beyond the Grid podcast. “We cannot decide, we can have our opinion, but we cannot decide, deciding is for the FOM.

“I think F1 knows, and Stefano [Domenicali, Formula 1 president] knows that the sport is in a very good place at the moment. Putting an 11th team in, does it create more revenue? Does it make it bigger, Formula 1? I don’t think so.

“It’s better to have 10 very stable teams than taking the risk to have no gain, and having somebody more to share the money with you know.

“It’s very stable at the moment, so obviously, if an 11th team comes and they bring, let me say 10% more revenue, why not? But if an 11th team comes and just takes an 11th off the revenue which is there now, so you dilute everybody else’s revenue? Why would you do that?

“Because I think the grid with 20 cars is pretty full, and as I said, they’re very stable, not only right now, but also for the future, because they’re all owned either by people which know what they’re doing and can run a team, or they’re owned by corporates, which we know they can continue.

“And we have got now Audi coming in, they decided to buy a team, not to put their own one out, because it isn’t an easy task now to put a Formula 1 team up from zero.”

Guenther Steiner overlooks an issue of only 10 teams

As Formula 1 reaches a stage where the series is arguably the most popular it has ever been, it could also be strongly argued that never has there been such a strong crop of racing drivers across the globe who could perform in Formula 1.

Former Formula 2 and Formula E champ Nyck de Vries proved that when he shone in a one-off Williams appearance at Monza in 2022, and while he secured a 2023 seat with AlphaTauri, many more talented drivers have not been so lucky with a swift entry onto the grid.

Oscar Piastri, for example, had to spend a year on the sidelines despite winning the Formula Renault Eurocup, Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in successive seasons, before a 2023 McLaren seat became available.

Felipe Drugovich meanwhile had a stellar F2 season as he comfortably claimed the 2022 title, with runner-up Theo Pourchaire impressing too, but there was no room on the F1 grid for either of them.

Mick Schumacher too, after he was dropped by Haas at the end of 2022, has fallen off the grid with no other seat available, despite his performances suggesting that he deserved to stay in the series.

So, looking beyond a purely money-based argument, it seems that welcoming in an 11th team would help to further strenghten the pool of talent in Formula 1.

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