While the prospect of seeing Andretti arrive in F1 has become more likely in recent days, particularly with the announcement of a partnership with Cadillac, the American team continues to come up against opposition from F1 teams (excluding Alpine and McLaren ), which Mario Andretti sharply denounced (see our article).
The teams fear in particular the dilution of their income, since the cake to be shared between them would be to be divided into 11 parts, and no longer into 10.
However, to mitigate this loss of revenue, the 2020 Concorde Accords provided for the introduction of an anti-dilution fund. The new entrant must pay a sum of 200 million dollars to register in F1. This amount is then shared with the other teams, each receiving $20 million.
But this sum, established in 2020, is now considered far from sufficient by the majority of teams. Moreover, it is only a one-time payment, even though the loss of income would be on an annual basis.
« We don’t need to welcome a new team, to endanger two or three teams on the grid » thus launched Frédéric Vasseur, then at Alfa Romeo, last May.
Günther Steiner, at Haas, put the terms of the debate as follows: “If an 11th team comes in and they bring in, say, 10% more revenue, why not? But if an eleventh team comes in and takes away an eleventh of the current revenue, you’re diluting everyone else’s revenue? Why would you do that? »
The argument of an increase in income hardly heard by the teams?
However, Michael Andretti has other arguments to make to F1 teams. He regularly reminds them that it is not necessary to resonate in stock but in flow: clearly, by allowing participation in the growth of sport in the USA, Andretti would increase the size of the cake of income to be shared. The loss of income would thus be well mitigated for the other 10 teams thanks to this growth.
« I try to remind them that there are 350 million people in this country, and yes, there has been a spike in interest here with Drive to Survive, but they shouldn’t just what they have… They are convinced that they have the American public now. But you need something to keep them for the future. And we think we can be that catchy something” evoked on this subject, last July, Michael Andretti, who addressed the other team directors.
The interpretation of the added value that Andretti can bring to F1 will undoubtedly depend on the real involvement of Cadillac and therefore of General Motors. Will it be a cosmetic commitment, as Alfa Romeo did with Sauber? Of a more pronounced involvement? In the event of a lasting investment by the largest American manufacturer, it is obvious that Andretti will have other arguments to make on his side.
Michael Andretti has already begun to raise his voice and reassure on this point, assuring that “Cadillac will be very involved in the manufacturing of the car. (…) For 2026, there are different things we could do with another engine manufacturer. It wouldn’t be a badged engine, because there would be Cadillac intellectual property in that engine. »
What to answer those who believe that Andretti would be just a simple customer team, rebadging a Renault power unit purely cosmetically.
But – team principals could also argue – F1 is already doing enough for the sport’s growth in the USA, with the organization of Grands Prix in Austin, Miami and now Las Vegas. The addition of an American team would thus perhaps be less essential…
A dilution not only financial but also… political?
But aren’t all these financial arguments hiding something a little less respectable?
Indeed, Michael Andretti has said, in the past, that the opposition of most teams does not find its first source in the budgetary field… the dilution of income would in reality be the mask, the hypocritical pretext of another type of ‘argument.
Speaking at the same time on Toto Wolff in particular, Andretti felt that the political argument actually counted more than the financial argument.
“Toto Wolff uses this [la dilution] as an apology. But you can see he’s looking at this and he’s thinking, ‘I’m going to have one less voice. That’ll be one more vote against me, » is how he sees it. I pretty much knew what we were getting into here. You’re swimming with the sharks. So you better make sure you have your harpoon on you. I’m not naive about it” thus vituperated Andretti last summer.
Towards a tripling of the anti-dilution fund?
One thing is understood: the anti-dilution fund will not move immediately, since the current Concorde Agreements run until 2026.
But for the future, and according to several information from Reuters and the British press, the F1 teams, scalded by the previous Andretti, would consider it necessary to increase the fund to 500 or 600 million dollars, that is to say a good tripling.
It would also be the sum that Audi would have paid to partner with Sauber for its F1 project. Finally, this tripling would be made all the more necessary if F1 had within a few years not 10, but 11 or 12 teams!
Another argument in favor of this tripling of the fund: the MLS (American football) and the NHL (ice hockey) have set their entry tickets at such astronomical sums, respectively 325 million dollars and 650 million dollars.
The current 10 F1 teams would also like to better take into account inflation, as well as the general increase in the valuation of F1 teams (Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren Racing, estimated that an F1 team would soon be worth a billion).
By having to pay such a sum, a newcomer to F1 would finally be “forced” to stay longer in the sport – thus avoiding a round trip that would be detrimental to the stability of the discipline, and allowing infrastructure to be built for the long term.
In sum, the battle between Andretti and the F1 teams may have only just begun, and could have lasting repercussions for the sport. No one will be surprised: F1 is not a herd of lambs, and everyone will defend their interests tooth and nail…