The FIA, the international governing body for motorsport, recently gave the nod to the participation of a new team, Andretti, ruling that the bid presented is both financially sound and well-aligned with the goals of sustainability and societal contributions that the sport aims to foster.
Lewis Hamilton, champion racer currently driving for Mercedes, initially seemed supportive of the new team’s entries, as expressed on Thursday prior to the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix. He stated that the development was “great” with the capability of fostering further job opportunities.
Significant concerns have, however, been raised by the existing 10 teams, given fears around a new entry potentially destabilizing F1 and eating into commercial revenues. Andretti now has the task of seeking approval from the rights holder FOM to continue with its team’s progression.
Hamilton caused a stir with a subsequent social media update, appearing to retract his initial approval for Andretti. He stated, “Nope, don’t support Andretti. Just the idea of another team in future if it’s a chance to make our sport more diverse.”
Tasked with explaining his position by F1 Initiative, the seven-time world champion revealed his inclination towards the potential benefits a new team could bring, rather than specifically supporting Andretti. He however insisted on a recalibration of FIA‘s team entry parameters, which he feels do not do enough to encourage diversity among team owners and the predominantly male driver roster.
His words were: “Firstly, it wasn’t that I support Andretti. I think from a driver’s perspective, it’s exciting to potentially see more cars. And then, the idea of an 11th team, we have over 2000 people in our team so that’s a huge amount of jobs. But we have to make sure that the criteria, which is quite strict, is really respected. I feel like we need to amend the criteria actually and make sure that there’s an opportunity for real impact, really making sure that if there is a new team, they have to be diverse.”
Hamilton also brought up Rodin Cars, another aspiring F1 team that was passed over by the FIA. Their founder, David Dicker, had planned to place three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick in the driver’s seat.
Hamilton emphasized on the pressing need for more diverse ownership and opportunities for female drivers. He highlighted the lack of diversity among team owners — all of whom are male and white.
However, Hamilton expressed wholehearted support for Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of F1, stating: “I really do have 100% faith in Stefano, who I’ve known for a long, long time. What he’s doing at the top, there’s no one that can do a better job than him. I know that he will make the right decision moving forward.” He concluded by offering his faith in Domenicali’s ability to lead the sport through the pending Andretti verdict. “He’s a racer and he’s passionate about the growth of the sport. So, happy to leave it in his capable hands,” he said.