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Ben Sulayem: New teams should be encouraged to join F1

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 11: Mohammed ben Sulayem, FIA President, (C) talks with Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner (R) and Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing (L) during Day Two of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on March 11, 2022 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202203110219 // Usage for editorial use only //

After many F1 teams rejected the idea of new outfits possibly joining the sport, Mohammed Ben Sulayem said that current teams should be open to this option.

Lately, Andretti Global expressed its idea to enter Formula 1. So far, though, the only person who seems interested in this idea is FIA president Ben Sulayem since it is understood that everybody else is happy with having just 10 teams on the grid.

Almost every team is annoyed by Andretti’s request to join the sport. Their biggest concern seems to be related to money. In fact, it is believed that the current sum of income of $200 million coming from commercial rights that the teams share, would not be enough should another outfit join the grid.

Despite the disapproval of the teams, it is the FIA together with FOM that have the ultimate decision. However, it is unlikely that FOM will go on with Ben Sulayem’s plan if the current teams are not in favor of this idea.

Despite the strong opposition, though, Ben Sulayem believes that Andretti as a new manufacturer could be positive for the sport.

“Today there are two sides of sustainability,” he said during a media briefing at the Dakar Rally. “There is the sustainability of the environment, and there is the sustainability of the sport.

“If you want to sustain the sport, you have to open it to the rest of the manufacturers. And to us, we are allowed to have 12 teams on the grid.

“To have a big company like GM, which is one of the top five in the world, we should be encouraging them to come to Formula 1. That is the way I would like to see the future: having an OEM in with sustainability.”

The FIA president also underlined the fact that having an American manufacturer with three races there would surely benefit the sport.

“An OEM would really push the sport further,” he said. “I just need a reason why if it’s not that we should be welcoming.

“Every single partner there [in F1], or stakeholder there, should be welcoming an OEM, especially from America. You have three races there [in the United States], and we don’t have maybe a racer, a driver, and for sure we don’t have an OEM.

“I welcome anyone to fill up the 12 [spots], but proper teams. We have accepted good teams but also smaller teams, like Haas and Sauber. I hope that this will change and that we will be able to have a proper team on the grid. It will be odd [to be] at 11, and not 10 or 12. But we’ll see.”

Finally, Ben Sulayem wanted to make clear that he only opened the process of welcoming a new team, but nothing has been confirmed yet, and he did not say yes to this idea.

“There is the due diligence,” he said. “There is a process, we wait, and it goes. As an FIA or a president, I didn’t say yes [we approved it]: we opened it. So let them see.

“Are they going to succeed? Will they tick the boxes? Will they be able to be there? We cannot just go and rely on what’s going on, we have to look for the future.”

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