FIA Approve Andretti Global but Teams Stand in their Way to the F1 Grid

The FIA has approved Andretti Global to join the F1 grid, but the teams are standing in their way. How we came to this and why is part of this week’s Business of Motorsport.

I also look at the blockbuster rumors of Apple buying F1 broadcast rights, IndyCar and NASCAR’s 2024 schedules, MotoGP on a roll and how an Italian lawyer became a critical part of the Alfa Romeo F1 team.

All this and much more in an extra jam-packed edition of the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news racers can use.

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

FIA Approve Andretti Global but Teams Stand in their Way to the F1 Grid
Andretti mock-up F1 livery by TommyWTF1, 3D model by Chris Paul Design/Unkredible Studios

Clearly the big news this week has been the FIA’s acceptance of Andretti Global’s bid to be the 11th Formula 1 team to join the grid and the first since Haas in 2016. Several teams bid with only Andretti emerging as the strongest after what the FIA describe as a rigorous analysis.

Following the call for Expressions Of Interest in February, the FIA has applied a robust process of due diligence during which the applicants were assessed on the sporting and technical ability, the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level and the team’s experience and human resources.

Selection criteria also included sustainability management in line with the FIA’s ambition of achieving the sport’s goals for net-zero by 2030. Any prospective F1 team was also required to illustrate how they intend to achieve a positive societal impact through its participation in the sport.

FIA approves Andretti Formula Racing application after rigorous analysis

Following the FIA’s approval, the submission will now be passed to Formula One Management (FOM) for commercial discussions. This is where it gets interesting as the teams, the FOM and Liberty have indicated that they do not favor adding an 11th team. Why? Primarily because they feel that another team will dilute their revenue potential, potential that is growing after the years of losses that most of the Formula 1 teams have sustained.

The thing that concerns me the most is the lack of transparency from both the FIA, Liberty and FOM. While the FIA have indicated in vague terms what a bid must address, they have not explained why Andretti’s bid was accepted and the others were not. What specific criteria did the FIA use? Did every applicant get fair consideration? This comes from an FIA that stressed that they would be more open and transparent when Mohammed Ben Sulayem assumed the office of FIA President.

On the other side, FOM and Liberty have stated that any new team must be “adding value to the sport”? What does that mean? The closest we can get to an answer is from Toto Wolff. “And if an OEM or a multinational group joins F1 and can demonstrate that they are going to spend X amount of dollars in activating, in marketing; that’s obviously a totally different value proposition for all the other teams.” A bit nebulous at best.

Finally, there is the potential legal ramifications to consider. The FIA is based in Europe as are most of the teams and Liberty Media is an American public company. Will the EU force through Andretti’s bid as per their ruling in 2000 that forced the FIA to divest itself of F1’s commercial rights to ensure fair competition? Will Liberty fall afoul of the Sherman Antitrust Law promoting fair competition?

Much has been made of the “anti-dilution fee” that is currently set at $200M that any new team must pay to compensate the other teams for their loss of revenue and whether this allows Liberty to shut out new entrants, but I don’t think so. It is merely a financial package for the teams that is well within the rights of Liberty to charge and is like a franchise fee in other sports. The current teams feel that the fee is too low and want it tripled to reflect the current state of the F1 market which does make commercial sense.

The only way this fee could become a restraint of trade issue is if Andretti agrees to pay and Liberty and FOM still reject their bid, especially if they offer no clear and compelling reason to do so. At that point the fee can be possibly construed as restricting trade leaving Andretti potential grounds for legal action.

All this goes to say that we are at a murky point where the right hand is saying yes and the left hand is potentially saying no, with neither offering clear reasoning with respect to their decisions. There could be many years of potential legal squabbles that arise out of this all the while discouraging any potential new entrants to the sport. That result should be concerning to both the FIA and Liberty’s shareholders. The current market conditions will most probably not be as hot as they are now and there may come a time when F1 needs to attract new teams but they will have scared them all away.

Here is a roundup of the news and analysis regarding Andretti’s bid, acceptance and possible courses of action.

FIA Approve Andretti Global but Teams Stand in their Way to the F1 Grid

The other big news to emerge this week are the rumors of a potential $2B bid by Apple for Formula 1’s commercial rights. Apple is not a stranger to sports as they concluded a massive deal with North America’s Major League Soccer to be a broadcast partner with Apple TV. They also have a few F1-related projects in the works including a Lewis Hamilton documentary and a Brad Pitt-starring feature film.

According to Business F1 Magazine, as covered by GPBlog, the deal would be a sliding-scale one. “Unusually, the deal would not provide Apple with full exclusivity from the start, but instead around 25% of the overall streaming rights package. As existing rights contracts expire, that percentage would go up, potentially hitting 100% within five years.”

The question is whether Apple would want to place such a bid. According to Business Today, the MLS deal has emboldened the company. “This potential Apple deal would be roughly double the current revenue Formula 1 receives from its global TV rights agreements. The magazine notes that Apple’s interest in securing Formula 1 has grown in the wake of the success of MLS Season Pass. If this deal were to materialise, an Apple F1 subscription service would likely coexist with MLS and Apple TV+ within the Apple TV app as an independent subscription.”

If you are curious about Apple’s approach to sports, check out GQ’s conversation with Apple executive Eddy Cue.

It is Cue’s belief that sports represents an enormous opportunity for the company—and that, with a few tried-and-true Apple tweaks, the right sport can be made to feel more like a rounded-edges, design-forward Apple product. “We spend a lot of money, a lot of time on finding the best unscripted drama in the world. That’s what we try to create in some of our shows that we do for TV+,” he told me in the first of a few conversations this spring and summer. “Sports is that in spades. It’s the greatest unscripted drama there is.”

Inside Apple’s Plan to Change the Way We Watch Sports

Will it happen? It’s tough to say but if the offer is real, it is an extremely lucrative one and hard to turn down for a public company like Liberty Media. Huddle Up has a great analysis of the perils and potentials of the bid in How Apple’s MLS Success Could Lead To A $2 Billion Deal With Formula 1 and is well worth the read. This is just more evidence if it was needed of the changing landscape of sports broadcasting in 2023.

Part of this whole debate over the “anti-dilution” fee rests on the valuation of F1 as a whole and the teams individually. Here are some of the latest revenue reports for F1 teams in the last week.

  • The Williams Formula 1 team recorded a more than £45 million increase in revenue according to its 2022 calendar year accounts. Financial statements lodged with Companies House in the United Kingdom this week reveal the team brought in £142.8 million in the year to December 31, 2022. That compared with £96.4 million the previous year – a £46.4 million increase in revenue for Williams.
  • The Alpine Formula 1 team posted a profit of over £26.2m in 2022 as it continued to generate good income while keeping a lid on costs. Boosted by the arrival of new title sponsor BWT and the prize money associated with fourth place in the World Championship the team increased its income from £201,485,000 in 2021 to £249,038,000 last year, representing a gain of 23.6%. Cost of sales, the measure of what the team spent on its overall operation, rose at a slower rate of 21.6% from £145,264,000 to £170,395,000.
  • Meanwhile, the Aston Martin Formula 1 team has declared a loss of £53m for the 2022 season, an increase of almost £9m on the deficit accrued the previous year. Figures released to the public domain this week show that AMR GP generated turnover in 2022 of £188,728,000, up from £150,438,000 in 2021. The overall cost of sales, a measure of what the team actually spent to go racing, rose to £152,046,00 from £107,735,000. With administrative expenses and other income such as government grants taken into account, that resulted in a loss for 2022 of £52,915,000, compared with £43,332,000 in 2021.

One person who takes issue with the current valuation of F1 teams is Rodin Cars founder David Dicker. Before submitting an ultimately unsuccessful bid to the FIA for a new F1 team, he tried to buy the AlphaTauri team but found the price tag to be commercially unviable.

Well, I do have some talks about buying AlphaTauri, but the price is commercially unviable as far as I could understand it,” Dicker told RACER. “You’ve still got to look at these things in commercial terms. And the F1 guys are experts on the motorsport side, but on the business side, I’m not so sure.”

Last week I mentioned in this column that Toyota were guests of McLaren at the Japanese Grand Prix raising a few eyebrows and starting some healthy speculation. Planet F1 reports that the manufacturer has been clear on any potential involvement in F1. “Ex-F1 racer and current Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe vice chairman Kazuki Nakajima said it is a “clear no” currently to the manufacturer returning to Formula 1, but that could change.”

Last week I also mentioned Buzz Radar’s report that stated that F1 has declined in popularity due to a dramatic drop in social media mentions, new followers and reach, a contention that F1 disputed. Autosport Plus explains why F1’s social media dip is no cause for panic while The Race argues that F1 will be better off if it fears a popularity decline.

Yet the new young audience that F1 is so proud of – like Buzz Radar, I am not convinced it is a captive audience. I suspect it is an audience keenly aware of alternative options vying for what it is aware is limited, sometimes painfully so, free time. That might fly in the face of the perception that young people spend hours on their phones at a whim scrolling through social media feeds – but not when you consider those social media feeds are an alternative to F1 that has the potential to be more unpredictable and stimulating.”

Las Vegas Grand Prix explains why the Las Vegas Grand Prix is the ultimate differentiator for F1 in the United States. “And for Americans, Las Vegas is that getaway, that escape. It’s extravagant, excessive and exaggerated. There’s a reason why it’s said that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The Las Vegas Grand Prix is poised to take American fandom to the next level.”

Sports Business Journal explains how F1 is seeing growing interest from U.S. marketers amid viewership growth and three three domestic races and agency execs “expect that growth to continue next year,” according to Kristina Monllos of DIGIDAY.

The three U.S.-based races as well as the addition of American racer Logan Sargeant, the first U.S. F1 driver in nearly a decade, has “helped boost interest in the sport domestically, making it more attractive for US marketers and advertisers.”

Race Recap has a thorough analysis of the Felipe Massa saga that is required reading if you are not up to speed. “According to other reports, Massa has targeted the FIA (F1’s regulatory body) and F1 in his legal action by holding them responsible for allowing the results of the 2008 Singapore GP to stand despite knowing of Renault’s acts in fixing the race and is looking to overturn the results of the 2008 World Championship.”

General Motorsport Industry News


John WallStreet has an excellent analysis of the reasoning behind Spire’s $40M spend on a third NASCAR charter. They feel that NASCAR is a “sleeping giant” which has yet to reveal its full potential.

The sport has only started to tap its potential and it’s [just] a matter of getting alignment on a new charter agreement with NASCAR,” Bill Anthony (president, Spire Motorsports) said. “If the new agreement is structured in a way where teams can be reasonably profitable and continue to reinvest in the sport at the current competition levels, NASCAR is poised to perhaps explode like every other big five sport has when you take into consideration franchise and enterprise valuations.”

BlackBook Motorsports explains that as NASCAR has unveiled its 2024 schedule, an international race has yet to come to fruition for the US-based stock car racing series but it is still on the radar.

Ben Kennedy, senior vice president of racing development and strategy at Nascar, said: “We haven’t ruled [international expansion] out. It’s something that we’ve continued to explore. We’ve been exploring this since we put the scheduling group together several years ago. We’ve explored it for ’22, ’23, ’24. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything that necessarily came together around ’24. I think that said, as we think about ’25 and beyond, we’re still bullish on taking the Cup Series international.”

IndyCar president Jay Frye talks with BlackBook Motorsport about the 2024 schedule, their US broadcast plans and lack of live races on NBC and future expansion of the series. “Obviously, we’ve got to take care of what we’re doing in the US, there’s a lot of states we’re not currently running that we probably need to look at. We’re pretty light in the northeast, there’s a lot of opportunity there.”

The promoters of July’s Hy-Vee Race Weekend hope to increase attendance after reducing prices in four of its seating sections for the 2024 race. “For 2024, the base price has been dropped from $100 to $55-$65, with four sections ranging between $65-$88 on Saturday and $55 to $73 on Sunday. The remaining sections go from $135-$200 on Saturday and $120-$185 on Sunday.”

Formula E have revealed that their fanbase has grown to a record 344 million. “The record-breaking season was clearly a hit with the fans, as the sport’s global fanbase grew 17% year on year to 344 million. This was discovered following research conducted by Potentia Insight in July, whose sample size consisted of ‘33,000 nationally representative adults across 17 international markets’, according to Formula E’s report.”

Formula E has also revealed that they are looking to race in China again in 2024 while reports are circulating that neither races in South Africa or India will return according to The Race.

The surge for trying to get a second Indian race is being spearheaded by Jaguar and Mahindra, which are keen to continue the momentum built with the inaugural race held in February. But a second Cape Town E-Prix is much less likely at present. The South African track is understood to have only a small chance of getting a second race next year. This year’s inaugural event was deemed a success by fans but is rumoured to have been a financial disaster, with Formula E said to have taken a significant hit on the event.”

FIA Approve Andretti Global but Teams Stand in their Way to the F1 Grid

BlackBook Motorsport reports that MotoGP saw a 20 per cent year-over-year (YoY) audience increase through the first 12 races of the season, the series’ commercial rights holder Dorna Sports revealed.

Attendance-wise, the series is in rude health. MotoGP broke its all-time weekend attendance record at the French Grand Prix, as nearly 280,000 fans flocked to the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans for the 1,000th International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) Grand Prix. Just a few weeks later, the German Grand Prix was once again the highest-attended sporting event in Germany, but this year it made a little more history with an all-time record crowd for MotoGP at the Sachsenring.”

Dorna organised the first ever MotoGP in India and the response was overwhelming. iSportConnect spoke with Carlos Ezpeleta, Chief Sporting Officer, Dorna Sports to know more about the MotoGP Bharat and future plans of Dorna.

I have to say that the size and power of the Indian market has really overwhelmed us. There is so much that can be done and so much interest and having been able to do this first event has really changed the situation. Everybody wants to be a part of Bharat GP. It is true that motorsport is still a young sport in India but we think it is very well suited for the market. MotoGP is hugely dynamic, young, entertaining, high-energy, unpredictable, with the action being intense and the sporting format being short, it is perfectly suited for India, being a country with hundreds of millions riding motorbikes everyday.”

If you are itching for a tire war in your favourite series, don’t hold your breath. Autosport discusses tire wars and why they have largely become a thing of the past in motorsport.

It follows that jettisoning a tyre war from a championship is a straightforward means of saving costs and cutting down the production of rubber. When tyre competition is ditched, FIA director of circuit sport Marek Nawarecki says “the benefits in terms of costs and sustainability are massive”.

The challenges facing the embattled Eastern Creek Speedway are “more complex” than previously thought, according to an announcement from Speedway Australia as reported by SpeedCafe.

In our earlier media release, dated September 22, 2023, Speedway Australia conveyed information regarding Eastern Creek Speedway. Thanks to the previous operators, we have since discovered that the information we relied upon was incomplete and did not provide a comprehensive view of the situation. On this basis, Speedway Australia formally retracts the statement made concerning the status of the venue’s operation. We recognise the importance of accurate and transparent communication and regret any confusion that may have resulted from our previous release.”

For the 2nd year running, the Philippine Motorsport Expo (PMX) is bringing together the local racing community for its annual event. It celebrates racing drivers, event organizers, as well as industry professionals to give visitors an immersive experience that showcases the best of motorsports in the country.

Scheduled this 14th to 15th of October at the Blue Bay Walk in Pasay City, PMX 2023 promises an exciting 2-day event filled with race cars on display, exhibits from brands and organizers, fun activities, and panel discussions with important personalities.

For more info and updates, Like the Philippine Motorsport Expo page on Facebook and follow @phmotorsportexpo on Instagram. (Time Attack Manila)

The agenda for the 2023 Professional Motorsport Expo that takes place November 8 & 9, 2023 at Köln Messe, Cologne, Germany has been released. You can read the full 2-day agenda here.

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.

Business of Motorsport

Team News

Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.

FIA Approve Andretti Global but Teams Stand in their Way to the F1 Grid

Motorsport Movers & Shakers

Business of Motorsport

As a lawyer, Alessandro Alunni Bravi used to fly below the radar – but in his new remit of Alfa Romeo team representative, he’s had to get used to being front-of-house. Over the course of a lap of the classic Targa Florio route in Sicily he explains to OLEG KARPOV of Autosport Plus how chasing performance took over from his previous ambition of chasing the mafia.

I’m passionate about motorsport,” says Alunni Bravi. “It’s not something you can hide. But my working style comes from law – it made me who I am, as an individual. Passion is something that makes you work with enthusiasm, make sacrifices. But to do this job, you need to be rational. When I’m at the office, I don’t think about passion, I think about what is best for my company.”

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.