FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has suggested potential teams will find out about their Expression of Interest bid within “four to six weeks.”
With rising interest in gaining a spot on the grid, the FIA attempted to streamline the procedure with the introduction of the Expression of Interest process earlier this year.
The process seeks to establish whether any candidates have both the sporting and financial backing to add value to the Formula 1 grid but even if a candidate is successful, it is just the first step on a long and tricky journey onto the grid, with teams having to then convince FOM but it is one that is expected to come to an end shortly.
FIA decision to come within “four to six weeks”
Currently, it is unknown just how many applicants have submitted their bid with only the likes of Andretti, Hitech, Formula Equal and LKY SUNZ having gone public but there could be plenty more teams waiting in the wings.
The full list may soon be revealed as the FIA prepares to announce which applicants hadve ticked all the boxes.
“We extended it because some of the teams requested some time, and you don’t want to exclude them,” added Ben Sulayem told Motorsport-Total.com
“You have to be flexible. We are not yet over with it because we have to be very careful with making a decision.
“It’s a big process, and I don’t like to be rushed because the decision has to be very, very clear.
“[A decision is] not far away. I think four to six weeks. We need to do it right. We are talking about big investment from people.
“We just have to wait now for the next six weeks to see what is the plan. I have no doubt that FOM will do the right decision. They know what’s better.”
The FIA president also revealed that between five and six applications had been made with “three or four” of them “very serious”.
Ben Sulayem pushing on despite criticism
One of the big sticking points from the F1 side of things has been whether there is any need for an 11th team but Ben Sulayem has insisted he is just following the pre-established rule book.
Current regulations state that up to 12 teams can take part in an F1 race and Ben Sulayem believes it is his duty to help facilitate that if needed.
“We have a contract and our contract says we have up to 12 teams. So we are not breaking the rules. We are, on the contrary, fulfilling the rules,” the Emirati said.
“The FIA as a regulator has to look at all the requests, and we did. The expression of interest was the right thing to do. I know some of the teams are not happy because I can see the financial impact on them.
“Is it adding a team or do they have to buy an existing team? That’s not for me to impose on big teams. But what we have to do is the process, and the due diligence of the financial side and the technical side.”
Ben Sulayem says denying opportunity could bring legal challenges
As well as fulfilling the contract, Ben Sulayem has also raised his concern over potential legal challenges should the FIA outright deny any applicant.
Current regulations state that the process is open for new teams to join provided they pay an anti-dilution fee of $200 million that will be paid to other teams.
“What if one of the applying teams take us to court? They can, if we say no to them,” said Sulayem.
“It’s not about me. I am only implementing the rules.”
It still seems the most likely scenario is some of the applicants may get the FIA’s backing but will come up short when it comes to persuading FOM.