Former Haas boss Guenther Steiner said F1’s decision to block Andretti joining before 2028 shows the sport is in such good health it can no longer afford to have uncompetitive teams.
On Wednesday, F1 rejected the joint Andretti-Cadillac bid to join the grid in 2025 or 2026, although it has kept the door open for 2028 if General Motors follows through with plans to build its own engine.
Andretti had said it would be ready to race as early as 2025, likely with Renault engines, despite that being the year before a major overhaul of regulations. But F1 has questioned whether the entry could be truly competitive entering in such fashion.
F1 cited this in its decision, adding that the willingness to enter next year gave “reason to question their understanding of the scope of the challenge involved”.
“I think they looked at it and thought it was too ambitious,” Steiner said.
He added: “I don’t have all the information. Maybe they looked at it and they said we want them but we want to make sure they are successful when they come, protect them from themselves.
“I think F1 is protecting all the teams, everyone involved in the sport, they didn’t close the door completely. They said ’28 is a new day, a new year, it’s quite a few years away, it’s not tomorrow but the door is open. Show us you can get prepared and be competitive by then and I think we’d welcome them”.
Steiner likened the decision to how football has safeguards such as relegation to punish uncompetitive teams, something which does not exist in F1.
“There’s not an ideal number [of teams]. If you’ve got 11 or 12 very competitive teams, that’s not bad, but also the commercial side of it needs to back it up. Just to have more teams, you need to share money with more people, which makes less for everybody. Then all of a sudden, even if you have 12 competitive teams, some will not end up with enough money and they will fall back. But then you have to keep these people around because they have the licence, because you cannot say you are not allowed.
“The thing with Formula One you do not have relegation… it’s not like football. If in football you don’t put the effort in and the financial means behind it, you are relegated and that’s your destiny. But in Formula One once you’re in you have the right to stay in… not forever, as nothing is forever, but for a long…