Mixed reaction to Andretti from drivers


Clearly fearful for upsetting their bosses, the majority of F1 drivers opted not to comment today on the possibility of Andretti joining the sport in 2026.

For the blank expressions and refusal to even open their mouths one might have thought the majority of drivers at today's FIA press conference had been asked for details of their salaries, such was the refusal to get off the fence.

As ever, Fernando Alonso, who raced with Andretti in the Indy 500 in 2017, was prepared to share his feelings but even then stopped short of welcoming the American team with open arms.

"A great team," said the Spaniard when asked about the possibility of Andretti joining the grid, "I know Michael, and it will be a great name to add to Formula 1.

"But there are other people in charge of these kinds of decisions," he added, "first, the FIA, and then FOM, and the teams as well. Whatever is the final decision is going to be okay."

Indeed, only yesterday, Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll made it quite clear that he is against any news teams entering F1, insisting that "the business is on fire, has never been in a better place... and if it isn't broken, you don't need to fix it.

"I'm a strong believer that it's working really well with ten teams right now, and believe that's the way it should stay," he added.

"I like Michael," said Alonso, "as I said, I like the organisation, but I also understand other things, and I will support whatever is Aston Martin's position. I will be okay with anything."

Asked if the addition of a new team would lead to more battles, the two-time world champion said: "In Formula 1 there is not that much of a battle between teams. Even if we are 50 on track, we will only fight against one or two drivers because they have more or less the same package as you.

"There have been some discussions in the past as well, even having three cars per team, things like that," he added. "In the end, you never know what is the best solution. But as I said, I think we have very good people deciding these kinds of things. We trust completely the FIA, FOM, so we are in good hands."

As ever, George Russell had clearly been briefed by Toto Wolff.

"Formula 1's the pinnacle and we want to see quality competition," said the Mercedes driver. "So I'm not for, I'm not against, but definitely if there were to be an extra team, it's got to be a quality outfit, one that can add to the sport.

"We want to see competition," he added. "In an ideal world you want to see all ten teams fighting against one another. So I'm sure F1 will come to the best conclusion and answer, whatever it may be. But we've got to have quality over quantity. But as I said I don't feel strongly."

Thankfully, teammate Lewis Hamilton was a little more open to change, opting not to follow the party line.

"I've always felt that there wasn't enough cars on the grid," he said. "So, whilst there will definitely be people that won't be happy for me to be so supportive of it, 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'll be exciting for the race."

Fellow world champion, Max Verstappen agreed.

"Everything I've seen so far, plus I think the partners they have and the name, they have shown that they are a professional team," said the Dutchman. "So it would be, I think, nice because it gives more opportunities for the driver's side.

"But I can understand from the team's side they don't want it," he added. "So it's a tricky one, it's a tough one.

"At the end of the day, the FIA, the teams and of course FOM, they have more information about how serious everything is and how well everything is prepared. So that's why it's not going to be a very easy decision to make."

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Published: 05/10/2023
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