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Liberty believes there is "no pressing need" for an 11th team

NEWS STORY
12/05/2022

As Michael Andretti seeks official approval for his F1 entry, Liberty Media CEO, Greg Maffei believes there is "no pressing need" for an eleventh team... as the American F1 Dream becomes a question of who takes the financial hit.

Speaking at the weekend, Andretti and his father, the legendary Mario, were confident that almost everything is in place for them to enter F1 in 2024.

However, while opinion among the teams remains divided, Liberty Media CEO, Greg Maffei insists there is no pressing need for another team.

Of course, one might expect the American to say that, for fearing that a new team would dilute the prize pot, the teams believe that Liberty should take the financial hit.

"Historically there has been as many as fifteen or twenty teams on the grid," he told Bloomberg. "It got down to ten right when we entered the sport.

"Manor, which was the 11th team, went into receivership in the UK, went into bankruptcy and got sold for a pound," he continued. "Now the bottom team - because they're all locked in as franchises - is worth $400 million minimum, maybe more. And I think you're seeing numbers discussed as much as $1 billion for a team or $2 billion for a team. That attracted investment, that attracted interest.

"There is a potential that we may increase the teams over time," he added. "But I don't think it's a pressing need.

"There are a lot of people who would like us to do it," he admitted. "Most of them want to buy in, but we haven't felt that need."

The American also believes an eleventh team would present a major logistical challenge.

"The paddocks, the garages, there's some places that really don't have more than ten garages," he said. "So their challenge is literally around the dynamics of putting an 11th team on the track."

Considering the obvious bid by Liberty to snare the American market, one would think that it would be desperate to see an all-American team like Andretti on-board, especially if it meant an American driver lining up on the grid.

"Many things have been said around an American entry," said Toto Wolff at the weekend. "On the pluses... I'm sure that if we have a true American team, with an American driver, that would be very beneficial.

"But, we have had ten entries today, we divide the prize fund among those ten entries. We have invested considerable amounts over the last ten years. I mean, each of the organisations that's sitting here on the podium has probably put more than a billion into the Formula 1 projects over the years, so it needs to be accretive.

"If a team comes in, how can you demonstrate that you're bringing in more money than it's actually costing: because then 11th team means a 10 per cent dilution for everybody else. So, if one is able to demonstrate that, then we should all be sitting on the table, and cheer for such an entry. But that hasn't been demonstrated yet.

"That may sound a bit dry," he admitted, "because it comes down to the numbers, but the value of Formula 1 is that it's a limited amount of franchises. And we don't want to dilute that value by just adding teams."

"You know, we've got 10 great teams," added Zak Brown, "and 11th and the 12th team need to add value to the sport.

"Obviously, the Andretti name has a huge history, in Formula 1, in various forms of motor sport, and I think would add a lot of value. So as long as it's a team that helps build the sport, unlike some of the other entries that we've seen, over the years that have come and gone in year two or three, I think we can't accept teams like that. But a very credible racing team with a credible brand, with the right resources, I think is additive to the sport. And that appears to be what Michael has put together. So, on that basis, we are supportive."

"I'm very favourable," agreed Alpine's Laurent Rossi. "It goes along with the expansion in the US. I think that will contribute to the show, an American team will directly generate, I guess, interest in the US. And therefore, revenue. then we need to demonstrate that it's enough to compensate for the dilution that Toto was mentioning. Gut feeling? I think he would - but let's do the job properly and we'll see."

"Obviously, for the current signatories to the Concorde agreement, it makes total logical sense to say that the 10 teams or 10 franchises have an intrinsic value and you dilute that by increasing the number," said Christian Horner. "Theoretically, it should be a Liberty issue to address if they want new teams to come in.

"To expand the number beyond 10, then fiscally, it was always going to come down to a question of how does that affect the distribution of the prize fund? So, money is ultimately going to be a significant factor.

"Ultimately, I see a question really for, you know, for the promoter, that if they want more teams, they're obviously going to have to dilute their share of the fund, because it would be unfair to expect the other teams to pay for the additional new entrants to come in indirectly. So that's always going to be the conflict you have.

"I think it's great that there's the interest from both OEMs and a brand and a team like Andretti, you know, it's a great name... Be better if Mario came back driving, but, you know, I think it's something that really Liberty, it's their business model that they need to work out for the future."

"If we have a new team coming in, with mega added value for the championship, this could make sense," agreed Frederic Vasseur. "But as Christian said before, by welcoming someone new, we don't want to put at risk two or three teams on the grid, and to stay at the same thing, the same situation.

"I think that by the Concorde agreement we are touching these points, and at the end of the day, it will be up to the FOM to decide what they want to do. I think that we have enough space to find partnership with the team existing on the grid, more than to welcome another one."

"As businesses, I think, first of all, we have got in the moment 10 stable teams," said Guenther Steiner, "which for a long time was not possible in F1, or was not happening in F1.

"Now, since five years, everything is pretty stable. Very good. And why would the 10 team say we dilute our value to bring somebody new in, you know, what's in it for us? You know, we have been here a long time.

"So as they said, I mean, if FOM wants to distribute more money or something that is another discussion, but just to have more teams, more doesn't mean being better."

So, in terms of more teams, more doesn't mean being better... but in terms of more races...

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Tardis40, 15/05/2022 21:12

"More important to get better competition with the current teams. It's been a two horse race for the last three seasons, counting this one, and before that it was a one horse race for quite a while."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by kenji, 15/05/2022 1:31

"I was of the impression that it was the FIA who decided how many teams made up the grid? Liberty are trying to close down any dissension from the other teams who support the level of entry without regard to the competitive prospects. The overriding element shpuld always be kept simple...does the new entry raise the level of competition and will it benefit the viewer/fan/supporters? Naturally financial considerations have to be considered but if that can be seen to be contributive then it should go ahead and they should let Andretti compete.




"

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3. Posted by elsiebc, 14/05/2022 16:20

"They could kick out a team or two who are not adding enough value to the "sport" and make even more money."

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4. Posted by Defiant, 13/05/2022 1:52

"Imagine my shock...

"

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5. Posted by Endre, 12/05/2022 16:00

"So what if there will be no serious candidate when the time of pressing need comes? There has been no candidates with such weight behind them in many decades. Typical corporate morons ...."

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6. Posted by Lapps, 12/05/2022 7:38

"Surely the situation has nothing to do with Liberty’s ‘pressing need’? F1 is a sport so entry should be possible for anyone meeting the qualification criteria. It isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a ‘closed shop’ run to generate profits for the current incumbents!"

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7. Posted by kenji, 11/05/2022 23:34

"I for one would like to see Andretti on the grid. They are a professional team with the 'chops' needed to be a formidable force. Apart from the $ dilution I see it as maybe the current teams don't want any further competition. For the fans it would be great. Andretti is a legend in motorsport."

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8. Posted by Roli, 11/05/2022 18:03

"No, lets 28 races a year instead ! All of them in the USA ! Considering, by Liberty Media that Miami was a success, why not have Andretti compete next year ?"

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9. Posted by trackrecords, 11/05/2022 17:17

"Seeing as we are having 3 US races, with an American team in F1, how long will it be before a 4th US race is on the calendar? Basically, which of the current races on the 'tour' do you want to get rid of (Singapore?)?"

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10. Posted by alvarezh3, 11/05/2022 16:34

"There you have it, part of the truth told by those affected: It has to do with "diluting" their income. The other part, is the untold truth that the teams don't want to face additional competition. More competitors could push the current teams back down the finishing order with the additional loss of income. Not their wish, is it?

To summarize, F1 is not about giving us a better show, is all about the stakeholders priorities. Their offer for me (and most likely for most of us) is: It is what it is....take it or leave it!"

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