Henk de Jong, owner of respected junior racing team MP Motorsport, confirmed talks were held with Williams and Haas when exploring the prospect of joining the Formula 1 grid.
Formula 1’s popularity is at an all-time high, meaning there has arguably never been greater demand for a piece of the action, whether it is tickets, a spot on the calendar, or indeed on the grid.
Andretti-Cadillac recently became the only prospective new team to gain FIA approval, but as they now meet resistance from the existing Formula 1 teams worried about the impact on their revenue, the likes of Audi have already taken advantage of another method of entry.
MP Motorsport held talks with Williams and Haas
Audi will join the grid in 2026 after agreeing a deal with Sauber to morph them into the Audi works outfit as of that year, with those interested in joining the grid very much being pushed down that route of acquiring an existing team.
And speaking to Ziggo Sport, Henk de Jong, whose MP Motorsport team competes in categories such as Formula 2, Formula 3 and F1 Academy, said this is the route which they explored by reaching out to Williams, Haas and potentially more.
“We are really a development team, but for the Formula 1 teams,” he said. “We train drivers for Williams, for Red Bull, for Alpine.
“We are very closely involved with Formula 1 teams, but Formula 1 is a completely different sport. Then a whole other world comes your way. And that might be a step too far for us.
“We looked at it very seriously. We even had contact with Formula 1 teams last year. We spoke to Haas, among others, and we spoke to Williams.”
Formula 1’s recent success has triggered a huge inflation in the value of the existing teams, Sky F1’s Craig Slater recently suggesting that one-third Mercedes owner Toto Wolff is looking at a three-billion euros pay-out if he cashed in on his stake now.
This hike in value is very positive for the F1 teams, though De Jong said this did also mean that they are now out of range for MP Motorsport.
“What is good for the teams is that in three to four years, the prices of Formula 1 teams have more than doubled,” he said. “So maybe we talked to them at the wrong time and we should have done it three or four years earlier.
“Fortunately for those teams, the teams are worth their weight in gold.”
MP Motorsport’s first and only F2 champion Felipe Drugovich ensures their influence on the F1 grid, having become Aston Martin’s reserve driver following his 2022 title success.