DOHA, Qatar — Formula One drivers, including world champions Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, sounded much more open than their teams on Thursday to the possibility of American Michael Andretti bringing a new 11th team to the starting grid.
The governing FIA gave its approval this week to an application by Andretti Formula Racing and passed it to the commercial rights holders for commercial discussions, which could take months.
The current teams are generally opposed to expanding the grid, wary of diluting the overall pot of revenues, but have no direct say in the matter which must now be decided by Liberty Media-owned F1.
“I think F1, at the moment, the business is on fire, the sport has never been in a better place, and I believe if it isn’t broken, you don’t need to fix it,” Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll told Sky Sports television.
“So, I’m a strong believer that it’s working really well with 10 teams right now, and believe that’s the way it should stay.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also said Andretti should buy an existing team, but his seven-times world champion driver Lewis Hamilton was more supportive of a new entrant and two more cars.
“I’ve always felt there weren’t enough cars on the grid,” the Briton told reporters at the Qatar Grand Prix.
“There definitely will be people who won’t be happy for me to be so supportive of it but I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity for more jobs, another two seats available for a potential female driver to come through.
“It opens up more possibilities, and I think it would be exciting.”
Red Bull’s Verstappen, who should clinch his third world title under the Lusail floodlights this weekend, said he understood his team’s position but looked at the situation as a driver.
“Everything I’ve seen so far, plus the partners they have and the name, they have shown that they are a professional team,” he said. “So it would be I think nice because it gives more opportunities for the driver’s side.”
Andretti Global announced last January a partnership with General Motors’ Cadillac brand for a U.S.-owned team with at least one American driver.
Under the rules, they would have to pay a $200-million entry fee, which would be shared among the existing 10 teams as compensation, but teams say this is not enough given current valuations.
A deal announced last June for a 24% equity stake in Renault-owned Alpine valued the British-based team at around $900 million.
The FIA started the formal application process in February, seeking to identify one or more new teams interested in joining in 2025, 2026 or 2027.
Formula One is not expected to make a quick decision on the matter.