F1 drivers hopeful of seeing Andretti’s on the grid, but understand team principals’ resistance

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The news of the FIA’s Michael Andretti’s application to become Formula One’s eleventh team was met with cautious optimism from drivers, cognizant of the strong pushback that the proposed Andretti-Cadillac team—and any expansion of the grid, for that matter—has faced from team principals.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was enthusiastic about the prospect. “I’ve always felt that there weren’t enough cars on the grid. There will definitely be people that won’t be happy for me to be so supportive of it! But I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity for more jobs, there’s another two seats available for a potential female driver to come through. It opens up more possibilities, and I think it’ll be more exciting for the race.”

Former teammate and current Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas echoed these sentiments, while adding that he thought the grid could handle as many as 30 cars.

“For me it’s very clear that the sport would be better if there were more cars. I remember watching as a kid, when you have a bigger grid there’s more entertainment, and more opportunities for young drivers as well.”

Other drivers, while still welcoming, were more guarded in their remarks. Championship leader Max Verstappen said “Everything I have seen so far, plus I think the partners they have, and the name, they have shown that they are a professional team, so it would be I think it’s nice because it gives more opportunities for the drivers’ side. But I can understand it from the teams’ side that they don’t want it.”

Fernando Alonso, who raced for Andretti at the Indianapolis 500 in 2017, was similarly reserved. “I like Michael, I like the organisation. But I also understand other things, and I will support as well whatever Aston Martin’s position is, and I will be okay with anything.”

And that position is not a welcoming one, as Aston Martin team principal Lawrence Stroll emphasized the general argument against from most of the teams.

“I think F1, at the moment, the business is on fire, the sport has never been in a better place, and I believe if it isn’t broken, you don’t need to fix it. So, I’m a strong believer that it’s working really well with 10 teams right now, and believe that’s the way it should stay.”