Mario Andretti Hits Back at Toto Wolff Over New F1 Team Drama
Wolff and other F1 bosses aren’t convinced Andretti would add value to F1. The American dynasty ain’t happy about it.
Andretti Global—a business entity led by the Andretti family—applied to the FIA for a place on the 2024 Formula 1 grid back in February of this year. The announcement was welcomed with open arms throughout the globe, especially in the U.S., where American fans hoped to have a team to support after Haas sold its soul to the Russians. Six months later, however, the process is still in question and current F1 team principals are less than enthused about letting the Italian-American family in. Well, Mario Andretti isn't having any of it.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has somewhat become the unofficial leader of the opposition, claiming it was questionable for a new team of Andretti's caliber to add any real value to F1, per various reports. This sentiment has been widely shared by others, but Wolff's popularity and power within the F1 fraternity have exacerbated his position on the matter.
"Andretti is a great name, they have done exceptional things in the U.S. but this is sport and this is business," said Wolff according to GP Fans. "We need to understand what it is you can provide to the sport and if an OEM or multi-national group joins Formula 1 and can demonstrate they are going to spend X amount of dollars in activating, in marketing and in various markets.
"We have 10 franchises that we hope can increase the value and you are certainly not going to increase the value by issuing new franchises to people who cannot increase the overall value of Formula 1," Wolff added.
Following Wolff's comments, Andretti tweeted: "This needed to be said; it's about time." No, Andretti wasn't referring to the Wolff's comments, but someone's tweet asking if "Wolff was too powerful for F1?"
While I can understand the former F1 champion's sentiments, it's worth highlighting that Wolff is hardly alone on this matter. Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur recently shared his own opinion, which was even more direct than Wolff's.
"I don’t want to speak about Andretti because it’s not personal, but to add another team doing the same things as the others with no big added value, I’m not sure it makes sense today," Vasseur told Racer. "Imagine if you have someone like Porsche that wants to join F1 and wants to do it on their own, does it make sense for us to open the door? In this case you say ‘Yes, for sure’, because it would add huge value to the paddock."
Given the gigantic $200 million “anti-dilution” fee Andretti would have to pay current F1 teams, it seems F1 bosses are whining about the very rules they've agreed to. But how could this happen?! (Sarcasm.) Also, any new team would be ineligible to receive any share of FIA money for several years—just ask Haas. The way it stands, teams are angry that F1 will have more teams to share its money with, even though they are the ones getting the $200,000,000 and the new team won't actually take any of their money for a long time.
As Vasseur said, it'll ultimately be up to F1 and the FIA to make a decision, but he's just not sold on the deal. And despite F1's popularity surging in the U.S., he doesn't believe another American team would do F1 any favors.
“In the end, it will be up to F1 and the FIA,” he told Racer. "But I don’t think added value can come from the nationality of a team. One of the biggest markets of F1 today is The Netherlands, and we don’t have a Dutch team, we have a Dutch driver.”
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