Williams ‘very strongly against’ Andretti F1 bid in fresh wave of resistance

Henry Valantine
James Vowles, Williams team principal. Bahrain March 2023.

Williams team principal James Vowles stands on the grid ahead of the race. Bahrain March 2023.

Williams team principal James Vowles outlined multiple reasons for why his team are “very strongly against” Andretti entering Formula 1 in future.

The American automotive giants saw their proposed entry into the sport approved by the FIA earlier in the week, but commercial talks will now take place with Formula One Management (FOM) before their entry into the sport can be confirmed.

The reception to a possible 11th team in Formula 1 has been mixed between the existing teams, with Vowles explaining that the loss-making Williams team want to see the current constructors all in the black before expanding the grid further.

Williams urge financial stability for all current teams before allowing Andretti entry

Williams recently reported a post-tax loss of £17.9m for 2022, up from an £11.9m loss in 2021, as the team invests in its future to try and improve the infrastructure at its Grove base.

But Vowles revealed that the team can expect a 2023 loss of “multiples” beyond what they experienced this year as they go about trying to force their way to the front of the field.

While he explained that he is not against the idea of the grid expanding in future, he believes the current teams have to be in a good enough position to be able to support more teams before any kind of growth can take place.

“My thoughts are very clear: Williams is against the addition of an 11th team, we’re very strongly against,” Vowles told reporters in Qatar.

“My responsibility is to 900 employees within my company. If you go and look at Companies House, you can go look it up for Williams, we’ve submitted it now you’ll see that we’re lossy. We’re very lossy.

“In fact, compare it from ‘21 to ‘22. You’ll see the losses are in the 10s of millions more, compare it to ‘23 which you won’t see but I’ll guarantee you it’s multiples above that, the reason why is we’re investing this sport to become better.

“We believe in where the sport is going, we believe in the direction of travel with the sport. In order to do that, and the reason why we actually have, I think, a sustainable entity for once, teams are actually working more and more together.

“We have closer racing as a result of things, but it should be known that this isn’t just us that are not financially stable, I’d say probably half the grid are not.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Lawrence Stroll’s clear and harsh verdict on prospective Andretti-Cadillac F1 team

F1 2024 cars: What name has each team given their chassis for the 2024 season?

“I think the addition of an 11th team is a sensible thing, but only at the point where the 10th team on the grid is financially stable.

“I’m fortunate to have owners that really believe in what we’re doing and to invest in what we’re doing, but we need to take care of the sport to make sure we look after that.

“Everyone says ‘well, we’re in a good place.’ We are in some regards, but now this is tens of millions, in fact hundreds of millions, you’ll see shortly being invested to make the sport better.

“It becomes therefore clear why we’re very careful about diluting what we’ve already got because it’s just more losses on the table and we’ve been clear from the beginning: More than happy to bring in new entities, but the pie has to grow as a result of it, not shrink – and so far it’s just shrinking.

“For clarity on that, that’s not against either Andretti or GM, quite the opposite. I welcome GM [with] open arms and Williams [welcomes] GM with open arms and I hope to forge a relationship with them should things not work out. They are an incredible entity that I think will make the sport better.

“So it’s not that we’re close-minded to more people coming to the sport, but what we’re very careful on is protecting the sport we have right now.”

Read next: ‘Political storm’ predicted with FIA and F1 set to clash over Andretti entry