Audi entry could benefit Formula 1
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff thinks Audi's interest to enter Formula 1 could make the sport more exciting and bring more fans.
US based racing giant Michael Andretti's recent bid to expand in F1 has been resisted by most of the sports current 10 teams. Teams are concerned to share F1's prize money with an additional competitor and feel the current $200 million dilution fund is not sufficient as the value of owning an F1 entry has significantly increased since that price was set and has gained popularity. The other reason is existing teams had to cope with budget cap, which new entries will not.
After news circulating Audi interested in joining the sport, Mercedes chief Wolff believes the German manufacturer's size and marketing power would make it a more suitable 11th entrant than Andretti, who has become a global powerhouse across IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E and Australian Supercars.
Wolff said, "I think that whoever joins as the 11th team, whoever gets an entry, needs to demonstrate how creative they can be for the business. 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.”
"And if an OEM 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."
He said F1 wanted to continue increasing its value over the coming years and thinks any new entrants must contribute to that process.
"With 10 franchises that we hope can increase the value, and you're certainly not going to increase the value by just issuing new franchises to people that cannot increase the overall value of Formula 1."
In addition to Audi, VW Group sister marque Porsche is close to agreeing a significant shareholding and power unit supply deal with Red Bull Racing from 2026, when F1's new engine rules come into play. Red Bull's current engine partner Honda, which has officially left F1 but still cooperates with the Milton Keynes outfit, is considering re-joining F1 in 2026 as the sport shifts to sustainable fuels and a simplified hybrid system.