FIA president Jean Todt says he still hopes to expand the Formula 1 grid to up to 12 teams in the future – as long as the new entrants can be genuinely competitive and sustainable.
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The last time that 12 teams took part in the championship was 2012, at the end of which the struggling HRT squad went into administration. Caterham departed two years later, while Manor’s subsequent exit was offset by the arrival of the new Haas team.
F1 hasn’t attracted any new entrants since then, while recent question marks have been raised over the long-term commitment of big names like Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault.
Even Ferrari threatened to pull out of F1 if it didn’t agree with the new rules and regulations planned for 2021 by the sport’s new owners Liberty Media.
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But Todt is confident that the grid won’t shrink any further, and indeed has set his sights on a modest expansion over the next few years.
“I would prefer to have 12 teams,” Todt said according to Motorsport Week. “I think that’s the proper number to hold the Formula 1 championship.
“Saying that, it can work with 10 teams – if you have 10 good teams [who are genuinely] competitive then it can work.
“I think our priority – I think we’ve said before – is that we want healthy teams, quality more than quantity,” he continued.
“I’d like to have an 11th team, but I’d like to have an 11th team that is competitive and healthy and brings something to the sport.
“To me, having an 11th team that sits at the back of the track is not adding anything for the fans that would improve the sport.”
Todt conceded that one of the big problems with the current state of the sport if the domination by three big players, a large midfield, and then struggling backmarkers such as Williams who are perpetually mired at the back of the grid.
“I’d rather 12 healthy teams to ten healthy teams, but I don’t want ten healthy teams and two struggling teams,” he concurred. “If we could be convinced it’s really a proper team really to join, myself, I would be quite happy to have 12 teams in Formula 1.”
But are there actually any prospective viable candidates out there for a place on the F1 grid?
“We have often teams willing to commit, and sincerely we have never been convinced by the solidity of the teams,” Todt admitted.
“Most of the people I’ve had preliminary conversations with want to see rules in place that provide the framework for a healthier business model.
“We want owning a team to have a franchise value, as in other sports,” he added.
“As part of that we’ve talked about what is the process to enter a new team [is] how do we make owning a new team something that is a good business proposition, not just a pursuit of passion.”
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