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Horner admits money is at the root of objection to Andretti F1 bid


As if proof were really needed of what most of us already suspected, Christian Horner admits that the main objection to Andretti's bid to enter F1 is money.

While the anti-dilution payment was brought in to effectively pull up the drawbridge behind the existing ten teams and essentially give the sport a franchise-based system, it was the recent admission that a $200m payment wouldn't be enough and that the teams were seeking at least $600m that gave fans the proof they needed.

Despite talk of DNA, "worthiness" and "value" all of which suggested 'maintaining' the sport's purity, the admission of the dramatic increase to the anti-dilution payment made clear that it was only ever really about the money.

Now, Red Bull boss, Horner has admitted that cash remains the stumbling block to Andretti's F1 dream.

"Look, Andretti is a great brand, a great team," he tells RACER. "Mario, what he did in Formula 1, as an American as well, is fantastic.

"Obviously GM with Cadillac as well would be two phenomenal brands to have in the sport," he continues, "I don't think there can be any dispute about that."

"As with all these things, though, it ultimately boils down to... 'Well, who's going to pay for it?' And you can assume that the teams, if they're perceived to be the ones who are paying for it, or diluting their payments to accommodate it, of course it's not going to sit well.

"The two teams that are supporting it either have a partnership in the U.S. with them or are going to supply them an engine," he adds, referring to Alpine and McLaren. "The other eight are saying: 'Well hang on, why should we dilute our element of the prize fund?'"

Money aside, Horner suggests that Liberty is happy with the current ten-team set-up and prefers that new entrants follow Audi's example by buying into one of the existing teams, even though this was the route Andretti took only to be rejected, no doubt because he didn't offer Sauber enough.

"On the other side, you've got the Liberty guys saying: 'Well we're not going to pay for it, we're happy with ten healthy, competitive franchises from an operational perspective... garages, logistics, motorhomes, it's all more to accommodate.'

"I'm sure they would prefer the Audi model, where they come in and acquire an existing franchise. If you introduce another one or two teams, you dilute the value of the current ten franchises, which of course teams, particularly down towards the bottom end of the grid, have got a very inflated inherent value at the moment.

"I hope a solution can be found," he admits. "What would be cleaner would be if they were able to take on one of the existing teams or franchises, but they are certainly both great brands that would be very, very welcome in Formula 1."

Of course, as he admits, should Andretti, or any other prospective entrant, target one of the existing teams it would no doubt be one of those, "down towards the bottom end of the grid" outfits, which would make full use of their "inflated inherent value".

Whatever one's view on Andretti, the fact is that now, even more so than under Bernie Ecclestone, it's all about money, with Liberty and the teams seeking to fully monetise every aspect of the sport.

At a time Forbes cites Liberty Media as the world's most valuable sports empire, the American company would be well advised not to take anything for granted.

Though Drive to Survive has attracted a whole new audience, an audience openly courted by Liberty and the teams, it has increasingly turned its back on those who helped build F1 into the sport that made it such an attractive business proposition in the first place and when the sport begins to lose its attraction - and it surely will - the speed with which it sold its soul and opted to become a cash cow for the few may well come back to haunt it.


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1. Posted by Rock Doc, 30/01/2023 20:03

"I guess we should have seen this coming. American owners are more likely to go with the franchise-based system that most American sports currently use. It's a way to tie up the sport and keep the money rolling.

This does go against the grain for most who love the sport and are not used to these closed sports. @overdriver is correct, now we will not get to see emerging teams come in and challenge the status-quo. The little guys sticking it to the big guys.

I did hope that when the budget cap came in that we would see more teams as the extra talent from lay-off would have somewhere to go and stay with the sport. There is a pool of talent there that cannot get in now due to these restrictions.


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2. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 30/01/2023 6:32

"So that is it EU Competition Commissioner, the cost of buying into the franchise is $600,000,000 ('m' does not do the figure justice) which is surely an anti-competitive sum in any business; over to you."

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3. Posted by overdriver, 29/01/2023 18:20

"So disillusionment has now given way to utter disgust. In Formula 1 motor ‘sport’ has been usurped by motor ‘revenue generation’. With an astonishing demonstration of bare-faced greed the established teams seek to cement their monopoly by demanding any interested party should cough up $600 million to compensate them for potential loss – AND bring a major manufacturer on board!

For heaven’s sake why? And how can FIA contemplate this? They are supposed to be the ‘sport’s’ governing body but appear to be being dictated to by the competitors over whom they should have authority and the entertainment business group to whom they relinquished (via acquisition) the rights to Formula 1 marketing along with its birthright.

Almost without exception the current teams have either evolved from privateer beginnings – or absorbed small, specialist constructors. What chance now for the emergence of new a new Jordan, Cooper, Lotus, Ligier, Brabham, Minardi etc.? And with the mandatory requirement to bring on board a ‘major manufacturer', what incentive is there for the likes of a Gibson or Judd to emulate the achievements of Coventry Climax, Cosworth or Repco which generally powered the products of those ‘garagistas’?

Formula 1 is rapidly being absorbed into its own black hole of avarice. I already grieve for the sport but I shall not mourn this current phase’s sure and certain passing."

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4. Posted by Paulinho, 29/01/2023 9:26

"So the budget cap for "most" teams in 2023 is set at $175 million, along comes a new consortium that shows an interest in joining and the other teams want them to pay a staggering $600 million to take part, is it just me ?

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5. Posted by Tardis40, 28/01/2023 20:19

"They're being short sighted.

For as long as I've been watching, which isn't as long a many others here but its been a while, there has been at best a two horse race. I think it would be fantastic to have three teams going for the gold. The interest it would generate would surely enrichen the pot, wouldn't it?"

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6. Posted by Endre, 28/01/2023 15:42

"Why don't they just change the rules so that only the top 10 teams receive prize money? That way there would be no dilution, no need for the ridiculous $200m entry fee, and any team would be free to join who has what it takes. It would also spice up competition at the bottom end, teams would no longer be able to be content sitting in the last spot while still being paid."

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