Andretti has made clear his frustration at the apparent slow progress regarding his attempt to join the series with a brand new team, having failed in his efforts to buy the Sauber organization.
Domenicali suggested that he’s happy with the current figure of 10 entrants and that a newcomer isn’t required to add value to the sport. He also stressed that, along with Andretti, other parties have indicated an interest in entering, but have thus far kept a lower profile.
An entry evaluation process is ongoing, but there have been no details released of how it is progressing or the timeline for any decision, which ultimately will be made by the FIA under its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
“I think today in the actual status of F1, it’s not a problem of quantity, where we can see a step of increasing the value of F1,” Domenicali replied when asked by Motorsport.com about the status of Andretti’s entry bid.
“It is a matter of understanding really, not only those who have a bigger or louder voice, but there will be other people, because Andretti was quite vocal about his request. There are others who have done the same, in a different way.
“So the evaluation is not only with Andretti, the evaluation is with others that are respecting the silence on trying to be more productive on proving who they are, and respecting the protocol we have put in place.
“As I always said, I don’t believe that it is today the problem of having more teams that will give more value to the championship.
“But there is a protocol that has to be fulfilled. And everyone, Andretti included, is following that. So this is the situation today. I don’t see any changes. And I don’t want to say yes or no.”
Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1, with Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
When asked in Hungary about Andretti’s plans Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suggested that he’d be more supportive if a new manufacturer planned to enter a works team, saying that it would add more to the sport than the Andretti name.
Subsequently, Michael Andretti’s father Mario suggested on social media that Wolff had too much influence in the sport. When asked about the elder Andretti’s comments, Domenicali defended Wolff.
“Well, I do believe that Toto has a position as team principal,” he said. “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.
“Mario, I know him very, very well, since a long time. He’s trying to present his idea in a way that he thought is the right way to do [it].
“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. And Mario is very vocal, Michael, too. And 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 who is to make the final decision. As I said, today I don’t see a weakness in the number of teams in F1. That’s my opinion.
Mario Andretti, with Emerson Fittipaldi and with Michael Bay
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Regarding the suggestion that a manufacturer could enter F1 with a new team, he said: “Today we are talking about the new regulations, 2026. And all the manufacturers involved in that, the incumbent or maybe the new ones we will see, are saying that 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 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.”
Audi F1 car rendering
Photo by: Camille Debastiani
Domenicali also downplayed the suggestion that the entry should be expanded from 10 to protect the sport from the potential loss of teams in the future, given that manufacturers have a history of coming and going.
He suggested instead that outside interest was good for the incumbents, in effect increasing their value.
“I think that today that is not a problem,” he said. “We have the other way around. We have the same situation of the Grands Prix – more people who want to enter, by far, than people who want to leave.
“Because there is the interest of a lot of manufacturers, but also a lot of teams, the actual ones can discuss and commercialize and negotiate with them, if they feel they’re weak, or if they feel there’s no future for them.
“So I think it’s also another value for those who are here, knowing that around them there are manufacturers or other teams that want to be in the business. So it’s a fact that will, in my opinion, of course reinforce the value of F1.”