How a new F1 team joins the grid as FIA boss starts expansion process

If a new team is looking to join the F1 paddock, they certainly have a lot of painstaking hoops to jump through. So, how likely is it that an eleventh team arrives on the grid?

Yesterday, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem put the wheels in motion for a potential expansion in Formula 1. He made an announcement via Twitter to share the news.

“I have asked my FIA team to look at launching an Expressions of Interest process for prospective new teams for the FIA F1 World Championship,” read said tweet.

As a result, the mega-rich, ambitious, and race-passionate are on high alert at the potential of a rare opportunity. The last new team in F1, Haas, made their Grand Prix debut back in 2016.

Before that, at the start of the 2010 season, a trio of teams tried and failed to stay in the sport. HRT folded after just three seasons of precarious finances. Similarly, Lotus F1, which became Caterham, folded in 2014. The last of the three 2010 newbies – Virgin, which became Marussia, then Manor – last raced in 2016.

From these failed entries, the FIA put in stringent measures to make sure that any prospective teams could survive the staggering finances of F1. But what exactly do you need in order to gain entry to the grid?

Requirements for a new F1 team

Any new team looking to get into F1 must firstly get a pass from the FIA on four requirements. These are (via

  1. Suitable technical ability and team resources
  2. The ability to raise and maintain enough funding to run competitively in the championship
  3. Suitable team experience and human resources
  4. Whether the FIA deem that the new team will bring any value to F1 as a whole

This four-step process is by no means an easy one to get through. But it is necessary for quality of racing. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport; therefore, the sport’s hierarchy only want teams who can compete, not just backmarkers.

The entry fee

Following this, a potential squad must then pay their entry fee. All teams pay one annually, but a newcomer needs to have really have deep pockets. From the 2020 Concorde agreement between current teams, any new entry must pay $200 MILLION up front.

This is then divided between the existing squads. Sound unfair? Maybe so. The point of it, though, is to offset loss of prize money for the established teams. As it stands, all F1 teams get a share of revenue divided across the ten squads. If you add another member, this portion obviously reduces.

It also proves a long-term commitment to the sport, as you would not put that much money into a small project. So, $200 million it is. The FIA will also perform background checks to ensure your team’s finances and infrastructure are sound.

After the $200 million payment, a new member must submit numerous other key factors in their application. Per Flowracers, a new F1 team needs to produce:

  • a name
  • the make of the car
  • an engine supplier
  • an agreement to race at every round in the calendar
  • two drivers
  • confirmation that they agree to the FIA’s championship terms and conditions.

To be fair, it would be pretty difficult to call yourself a “team” without most of this, anyway.

If a newbie gets all the way through this, they will officially gain entry to the F1 grid. Currently, though, there are very few who have made solid claims at wanting to join the paddock.

Are there any prospective newcomers on the horizon?

The most high-profile candidate is Andretti Racing. A giant of North American motorsport, Andretti have publicly stated their desire to join Formula 1. However, some existing teams have rebuffed their wish to get on the grid.

For instance, both Christian Horner and Toto Wolff – usually disagreeing on everything – both said that an eleventh team would “dilute” the F1 field. In fact, per Autosport, just McLaren and Alpine appear supportive of Andretti joining F1.

Despite the unwillingness from current squads, Andretti still have their eyes on a 2024 entry. Thanks to Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s efforts, they might be able to do it.

Featured image credit: Getty