F1 does not need ‘dreamers’ – Brown

McLaren CEO Zak Brown (centre) welcomes the possibility of new F1 teams but has warned against what he sees as likely 'dreamers'

McLaren CEO Zak Brown (centre) welcomes the possibility of new F1 teams but has warned against what he sees as likely dreamers

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has decried any potential ‘dreamers’ from entering F1 now the FIA’s Expressions of Interest process has closed.

Alongside Michael Andretti’s long-known bid, which is supported by Cadillac, a number of unusual names have emerged over the past few months since the FIA opened its doors to expanding the grid from potentially as early as 2025, more likely 2026.

It is understood that alongside Andretti, there are a further five applicants in the frame for a chance of being selected on June 30 – although given the number involved this may be pushed back.

Rodin-Carlin is run by Australian billionaire David Dicker, who is now the majority shareholder of Carlin and is apparently seeking to run an F1 team out of New Zealand.

There is LKY SUNZ, which is understood to have US and Asian partners; H26, is the entry from Hitech boss Oliver Oakes who runs teams in F2 and F3; Formula Equal, set up by former BAR boss Craig Pollock whose mandate is equality, with a likely base in Saudi Arabia, and finally, Panthera, founded by French lawyer Michael Orts.

It now remains to be seen which of the teams genuinely has the wherewithal to fulfill the FIA’s due diligence criteria when it comes to technical capability, resources, funding, their ability to grow Formula 1, as well as ticking the boxes with regard to sustainability and environmental requirements.

Whilst the likes of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner have questioned the viability of an 11th team and how it could be accommodated, Brown is more welcoming providing there is serious intent behind the entry.

“As long as they are additive to our sport, I’d love to see more cars on the grid,” said Brown. “It’s exciting.

“An increase in the grid of the right teams, that bring the right resources and are additive to what we’re all trying to do to help grow the sport, then I’m all for it.

“The only credible, sustainable team I’ve seen in the last decade is Haas, so we need to make sure that if someone enters, they really have the commitment and can do what it takes.

“Because in my experience, in a variety of motorsports, you do see a lot of dreamers.

“What we don’t need, for the health of the sport, is a team coming in and underestimating what it’s going to take, and two years later, they’re gone.”

Could the FIA and F1 run a 24-car grid?

Under the provisions of the FIA International Sporting Code, it is possible for the F1 grid to expand to 26 cars (13 teams).

This is unlikely, particularly as the prize fund overseen by F1 owners Liberty Media only allows for a maximum of 12 teams to be paid.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has questioned whether more than one team would be viable.

“From my perspective, if the entire sport can be better off by adding teams, that’s what we should be looking at doing,” said Szafnauer.

“Right now, we have 10 teams and if we can reel one in, there’s 10 of us competing almost at the same level and I think that’s good for the fans.

“We haven’t had that in recent years. The cost cap has helped, and the better distribution of income has helped.

“The fact the sport is in the ascendancy means we get more sponsorship, too, and with all that, having 10 healthy teams is great for the sport.

“If we had more than 10, and it becomes a little bit less healthy, maybe that’s not so good.

“But that’s not for us, or not for me to say. For me, it’s whatever optimises the entire sport, whatever that number is.”

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