American racing champion Michael Andretti’s attempt to extend his multi-chain operations to Formula 1, was met with fierce resistance from most of the discipline’s current 10 participants.
The teams involved are tired of having to share F1 prize money with an additional competitor and feel that the current $200 million mitigation fund is not enough because the value of owning F1 participation has increased significantly since this price was set, due to the growing global interest in the sport and the newly implemented budget cap .
But amid Audi’s interest in joining the sport, Mercedes chief Wolff believes the German manufacturer’s size and marketing strength will make it more suited to Andretti’s 11th entry, even as the American outfit has become an active global force across IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E and Australian Supercars.
Asked openly in light of the uncertainty about Team Andretti’s position on whether the new entry from Audi will change the perspective of existing teams, Wolff said: “I think everyone who joins Team XI, whoever gets involved, needs to show how creative they are. They could be up for work.
“Andretti is a great name, and I think they’ve done exceptional things in the States. But this is a sport and this is business and we need to understand what you can bring to this sport.
“And if an OEM or an international multinational group joins Formula 1 and can demonstrate that they will spend X amount of dollars in activation, in marketing in different markets; that is clearly a very different value proposition for all the other teams.”
Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman of Andretti Autosport
Photography: Andreas Bell
Wolff says F1 wants to continue to increase its value over the coming years and believes any new entrant should contribute to the process.
“With 10 franchises we hope to increase the value, and certainly not increase the value once new franchises are issued to people who cannot increase the overall value of Formula 1.”
In addition to Audi, Volkswagen Group sister Porsche is close to agreeing a major shareholding deal and supplying the power unit with Red Bull Racing from 2026, when new F1 engine rules come into effect.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s current engine partner Honda, which has officially left F1 but is still cooperating with Milton Keynes, is considering re-joining F1 in 2026 as the sport switches to sustainable fuel and a streamlined hybrid system.