Martin Brundle believes the upcoming Concorde Agreement negotiations could have been a significant factor behind Formula 1’s rejection of the Andretti-Cadillac bid to enter the sport.
Having passed the FIA’s Expressions of Interest process, talks over Andretti advanced to FOM [Formula One Management] over commercial considerations, but the commercial rights holders rejected their bid at the end of January, citing a host of reasons behind it.
Mario Andretti, 1978 World Champion and father of team owner and ex-McLaren driver Michael, said he was “devastated” by the outcome, but Brundle worries that if Formula 1’s popularity begins to dip, such a rejection may not end up being the right call.
Martin Brundle: F1 could be ‘completely different’ on new teams in future after Andretti bid
Andretti themselves issued a statement to say they “strongly disagree” with FOM’s report into why they were rejected from entering the sport as a new team.
As a result, former F1 driver and long-time analyst Brundle believes there’s a chance the American outfit could look into legal routes for how to challenge the decision by the commercial rights holders.
“I’d be surprised if Andretti don’t take it very badly and start talking about anti-competitive situations, both here in Europe and in the United States,” Brundle told Sky Sports News.
“Let’s wait and see. I have no idea. But I don’t think they will take this decision easily, happily or lying down.”
Brundle added that the sport is currently in a state of “peak F1”, given its worldwide popularity being at an all-time high and venues clamouring to hold races, with attendances increasing year on year.
But with the Concorde Agreement due to expire in 2025, the agreement struck between the teams, FOM and FIA to continue racing, negotiations around the $200million anti-dilution fee for new teams could be a crucial part of conversations.
With the value of the sport having gone up significantly since the agreement was last negotiated, there is widespread belief that teams would be looking to increase that fee to share among themselves to not lose out on as much revenue.
But if Formula 1’s popularity begins to dip, Brundle worries that the sport may all of a sudden be in a different position whereby it will be actively searching for new teams.
When asked if the new Concorde Agreement could be a key reason why the Andretti bid has at least halted for now, Brundle responded: “Absolutely, yeah. So that the joining fee becomes much higher.
“And as I said before, teams like Red Bull or Mercedes Benz, Ferrari, for example, there are others who have spent billions and billions to get to this point.
“They’ve lost hundreds of millions in some seasons, or spent, shall we say, it’s a fantastic marketing tool in that respect for them, but they will be pushing hard to have the bar set much higher to join what is peak F1 at the moment.
“Might this be a little bit short-sighted down the road? Because you don’t know how it’s going to go, do you?
“You don’t know how the world’s going to go and how Formula 1’s popularity will be five years from now, [it] could be a completely different story and they might be holding their arms out looking for new teams.”