This week, the FIA confirmed that the Andretti project has successfully navigated the maiden stages of the entry process. The governing body has given its seal of approval, pushing this matter forward to F1 for commercial discussions. These negotiations will heavily involve deliberations on the potential economic impact on the sport’s ten existing teams.
Several drivers have treaded cautiously around publicly endorsing the Cadillac-supported venture by Andretti, in light of the opposition expressed by the current bosses of the F1 teams. The seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, too, admitted that his comment may attract a dissenting opinion in the paddock.
“I think it’s great,” Hamilton shared with F1 Initiative on his thoughts about the prospect of an Andretti team in the race. “I think in F1 I’ve always felt that there weren’t enough cars on the grid.” He added, “There will definitely be people that won’t be happy for me to be so supportive of it! But I think it’s great.”
Hamilton pointed out the added benefits this could bring. “It’s an opportunity for more jobs, there’s another two seats available for a potential female driver to come through. It opens up more possibilities, and I think it’ll be more exciting for the race.”
Max Verstappen expressed positive sentiments but pointed out that the views might differ on the team owners’ side. “That is why it is very hard to comment on that because I speak from the drivers’ side,” the Dutch racer stated.
“Of course I am not a team owner, but I can understand their side,” Verstappen continued. “But everything I have seen so far, plus I think the partners they have, and the name, they have shown that they are a professional team.” He added, “But I can understand it from the teams’ side that they don’t want it. So it is a tricky one, a tough one.”
The comment from Verstappen underlined the difficult decision that lies ahead. “At the end of the day the FIA, the teams and of course the FOM, they have more information about how serious everything is and how well everything is prepared. That is why it is not going to be an easy decision to make.”
Fernando Alonso, who was part of the Andretti team for the 2017 Indy 500, said he would back his Aston Martin team’s stand on the issue. “A great team, I know Michael and it will be obviously a great name to add to F1,” Alonso chimed in. “I like Michael, I like the organisation. But I also understand other things, and I will support as well whatever Aston Martin position is, and I will be okay with anything.”
Valtteri Bottas also voiced support for the addition of two new cars to the grid. “For me very clear that the sport would be better if there were more cars,” Bottas proclaimed. He echoed Hamilton’s sentiments about the greater opportunities for young drivers that the expansion could bring about. He added, “So for me, it’s for sure the more teams the better. Like, I think the upper limit would be probably like, I don’t know, 30 or something? But we’re far from that. So for me, it would be very welcome. But I know the reasons why there’s a bit of pushback.”