FIA 'can't force F1 teams' to accept new entrants

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says the governing body "can't force F1 teams" to accept new entrants within its ranks, but it also can't reject an application that meets its standards.

On Monday, British junior outfit Hitech GP announced that it had submitted to the FIA an application to join the grid in 2026 as part of the institution's 'Expression of interest' procedure that was launched earlier this year.

High profile endeavor Andretti Global which has set up a partnership with Cadillac has also filed a bid to enter Formula 1, while it is believed that Formula Equal, an effort spearheaded by former BAR F1 boss Craig Pollock has a submitted its entry for review by the governing body.

The latter's procedure relies on stringent criteria linked to the financial, sporting and sustainability aspects of a team to assess a potential entrant's viability.

However, Formula 1 remains lukewarm on expanding its grid, arguing that adding an eleventh or twelfth team would only dilute the prize money fund shared by the sport's current ten incumbents.

"There are a few teams wanting to come in," Ben Sulayem said in an interview with website GrandPrix247. “We are happy that they express interest.

“We have been working with FOM and with Stefano Domenicali [Formula 1 CEO]. That’s very important to do due diligence.

"And they realize that the FIA is also one of the main partners in that. And we both agree that having a team or a new team… we cannot really force big teams to say yes or no. It’s up to them."

From the outset, it's been unclear what purpose the FIA's 'Expression of Interest' application process serves if Formula 1 has the last word.
But Ben Sulayem argues that the governing is within its right to act as a filter of sorts to determine the credibility and competence of potential teams seeking to race in F1.

"I can see the questions of the team," he added. "It is something important. We at FIA have also this concern.

"You know, when you’re talking about the expression of interest, I mean, there are still regulations there and we cannot shut the application down and say no, because we have another choice and we cannot also say no to them if they fulfil the application.

"So really, I understand the other teams’ concerns when it comes to another team.

"Also we’re not breaking the rules. And I would expect them to understand our position when it comes to that also. That’s the way we can go forward together. You see.

"As I said, I understand, but also I’m sure they will understand our position. One thing that I will not do is break the rules."

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