FIA President Ben Sulayem advises Andretti to «buy another F1 team»

Andretti was refused a 2026 entry by F1 after the FIA had admitted its application on a technical basis.

Ben Sulayem was a proponent of expanding F1’s grid of 10 teams, opening up a tender process that only Andretti passed.

“We have a contract, and our contract says we have up to 12 teams,» he told Autosport last year. «So, we are not breaking the rules. We are, on the contrary, fulfilling the rules.»

He also said it was his dream to fill up all 12 slots by adding a manufacturer outfit from the US and from China.

That vision put him at odds with F1 management and owner Liberty Media, who don’t believe Andretti’s entry would be competitive or add significant value to the series as an expansion team.

Speaking to Reuters in Monaco, Ben Sulayem has now changed his stance and advised Michael Andretti to buy an existing outfit rather than persist in his efforts to join as an 11th team.

«I have no doubt FOM and Liberty would love to see other teams as long as they are OEMs,» he said.

«I would advise [Andretti] to go and buy another team, not to come as the 11th team.

Michael Andretti, Owner,retti Global

Michael Andretti, Owner, Andretti Global

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

«I feel that some teams need to be refreshed. What is better? To have 11 teams as a number or 10 and they are strong? 

«I still believe we should have more teams but not any teams. The right teams. It’s not about the number, it’s about the quality.»

Ben Sulayem said he would still welcome Andretti and its partner General Motors in principle, suggesting the tie-up would bring more to the sport than some of F1’s current outfits.

«Without mentioning names, there are teams which are struggling. Struggling with performance, struggling even with management,» he added.

«It’s about having the right team, not to lose a chance or an opportunity where someone like GM with a PU is coming to Formula 1.

«Imagine the impact. We have three races in America. We have such a huge fan base. But we don’t have a proper [US] team. I’m so happy to have Ford in [with Red Bull] but imagine having GM and imagine having [more] American drivers.»

The change of stance over Andretti could be perceived as an effort to get on the same page with FOM and Liberty Media, given that Ben Sulayem has thus far endured a frosty relationship with the commercial rights holder over a variety of conflicts.

Bruno Famin, Alpine F1 Team in discussion with Michael Andretti, Owner Andretti Global

Bruno Famin, Alpine F1 Team in discussion with Michael Andretti, Owner Andretti Global

Photo by: Erik Junius

That is especially relevant amid talks to put together a new Concorde Agreement that stipulates how the series will be run on a commercial level and needs renewing ahead of 2026.

«Peace is always good, you can’t have all the time unnecessary issues,» Ben Sulayem acknowledged. «We both understand that we need to go forward and the only way to go forward is to have much more clarity between us.

«We are with FOM when it comes to business. We are partners and we have to also forget the small things and find a solution how can we address these issues.»

F1 has formally left the door ajar for Andretti to try and apply again for 2028, if GM is ready to deliver a works power unit.

But Andretti has not taken no for an answer and continued its aggressive push to join for 2026, opening a UK base in Silverstone and signing former F1 technical director Pat Symonds as a consultant.

It has also involved several US senators and representatives to challenge F1’s rejection on legal grounds by invoking anti-trust laws, an escalation that hasn’t gone down well at F1.

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