Toto Wolff explains why Audi are better option than Andretti for 11th team

Sam Cooper
Toto Wolff at the Sao Paulo GP. Interlagos November 2021.

Toto Wollf has hinted that he would be more favourable to Audi becoming Formula 1’s 11th team rather than Andretti Global.

The Andretti family, led by Michael, has long been trying to find a way to get onto the grid. Last year, they came close after almost agreeing a deal to buy Sauber only for it to collapse at the 11th hour, and this year the 59-year-old American announced plans to launch his own Andretti Global team which would be an 11th constructor in the pit lane, hoping to do so for the 2024 season.

His plans have been met with a lukewarm response by the FIA and F1 as well as the current occupiers of the spots on the grid, most notably in the form of Mercedes boss Wolff.

In May, the Austrian said that any new team would need to show it can bring value as an 11th team would mean a “dilution” for the existing 10.

Another team looking to join the mix is Audi who are reportedly targeting an entry in 2026, it was put to Wolff whether he would be more favourable to the German car manufacturer joining the sport rather than Andretti and the Austrian seemed to suggest as much.

“I think that whoever joins as the 11th team, whoever gets an entry, needs to demonstrate how creative they can be for the business,” Wolff said, as per motorsport.com.

“Andretti is a great name, and I think they have done exceptional things in the US. But this is sport and this is business and we need to understand what is it that you can provide to the sport.

“And if an OEM [original equipment manufacturers] or an international, multinational group joins F1 and can demonstrate that they are going to spend X amount of dollars in activating, in marketing in the various markets; that’s obviously a totally different value proposition for all the other teams.”

Andretti’s prolonged and troubled entry into F1

The Andretti family has long been trying to break onto the F1 grid, here’s a timeline of the events of the past year and how we got to this point:

October 2021 – The Andretti Group emerges as a potential buyer of Sauber but the deal collapses late on due to financial difficulties.

February 2022 – Michael Andretti says he has applied to the FIA for a new team to enter the grid from the 2024 season onwards. His father Mario says the team is “ready to go” and that a base in Indianapolis is planned. Michael Andretti later reveals they have a power unit deal in place with Renault if they get the green light from the FIA. Current team bosses start airing concerns.

March 2022 – Wolff says he is worried a new team would “dilute” the sport for the existing constructors, Michael Andretti tries to reassure him that they “bring a lot.” Wolff is joined in his scepticism by Christian Horner and Franz Tost leading Andretti to say he had not expected such a frosty reception and that he believed it to be a “no brainer.”

April 2022 – Andretti is kept waiting for a decision from the FIA, leading Michael to say they are pressing on with preparation regardless. Elsewhere Volkswagen announces it is looking to add two names, Porsche and Audi, to the sport. Later in the month, Renault CEO Luca de Meo confirms talks are ongoing with Andretti over a potential power unit deal.

May 2022 – Michael Andretti asks the FIA to put the decision to a bid, confidently stating they’ll “beat everybody” and that money is not an issue. Horner later says it is more important to have an American driver on the grid than another American team in addition to Haas. Fernando Alonso says Andretti receiving a green light to join the sport would be “the best news.”

June 2022 – Mario Andretti hits out at Wolff’s criticism, saying: “I find the criticism very disrespectful because we have been active in motorsport much longer than he has. I respect his success so far, but he has no reason to look down on us.” Later in the month, McLaren CEO, and fellow American, Zak Brown says he is disappointed by “resistance” to the Andretti F1 entry.

July 2022 – Guenther Steiner takes issue with Michael Andretti’s comments calling F1 a “European club” and says they are “not constructive.”

August 2022 – Jean-Francois Thormann, marketing director of Andretti Autosport, says “the deadline is already very close” for a 2024 entry.