F1 CEO Domenicali backs Wolff over opposition to Andretti entry

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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has backed Mercedes boss Toto Wolff over his opposition to Andretti's bid to join the grid.

The American-based motorsport outfit has been pushing to enter F1 for a year now, having previously held failed talks to takeover the Sauber team in 2021.

Since then, Andretti's focus has been on entering as an 11th team in 2024, even submitting a bid to the FIA as far back as February.

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But their ambitions have been thwarted by strong resistance from many current teams, and particularly Wolff, with the Austrian arguing Andretti simply won't add enough value to F1 to make it worth accepting a new entry. 

“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," he said.

“Andretti is a great name, and I think they have done exceptional things in the US. But this is sport and this is business and we need to understand what is it that you can provide to the sport.

“If an OEM (such as Audi) or an international, multinational group joins F1 and can demonstrate that they are going to spend X amount of dollars in activating, in marketing in the various markets; that’s obviously a totally different value proposition for all the other teams.”

In response, 1978 F1 world champion Mario Andretti quote tweeted an article questioning if Wolff had too much power in F1.

But Domenicali believes the Mercedes chief is more than qualified to have his view.

“Well, I do believe that Toto has a position as team principal," the Italian told Motorsport.com.

“He’s a 30% shareholder of Mercedes, he has a reputation of winning eight [titles] in a row. So I mean his credibility, there’s nothing to add."

On the Andretti bid, the Italian was also lukewarm about the idea of adding an 11th team to the F1 grid.

“Mario, I know him very, very well, for a long time. He’s trying to present his idea in a way that he thought is the right way to do [it]," he said.

“But I do believe that, as you know, there is a governance in place and the decision has to follow the protocol that is in place.

"Mario is very vocal, Michael, too. I spoke with them quite often, as you can imagine and we need to respect that.

“We may have different opinions, at the end of the day, it’s a matter of following the protocol. And there is someone that is to make the final decision.

"Today I don’t see a weakness in the number of teams in F1. That’s my opinion.


Domenicali also made it clear that any potential new entrant or supplier must prove they are committed to the sport for the long term.

“Today we are talking about the new power unit regulations, 2026,” he said. “And all the manufacturers involved in that, the incumbent or maybe the new ones we will see, are saying that the time is running very quickly, four years to do another power unit.

“We need to be prudent because when we’re talking about F1, we need to have an entity or a team or a manufacturer that is really solid, is really strong and has a full commitment for an incredible long-term future.

“So, this is what I really can add on what is the status of the art, but as I said today, I don’t see honestly the need of that increase, to have a big benefit for the sport of F1.”