Ben Sulayem: 'How on earth can we refuse GM?'

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has offered his public backing to Andretti-Cadillac's candidature to join the grid in F1, insisting the governing body cannot turn down General Motors.

Andretti Global is among five teams that have submitted to the FIA an 'Expression of Interest' application to join F1, perhaps as early as 2025.

The governing body is currently still processing the applications it has received and is expected to deliver its verdict on the latter in the coming weeks.

Andretti is partnering with GM brand Cadillac for its F1 endeavor and has already started recruiting key personnel for its technical department, including ex-Renault tech boss Nick Chester.

Formula 1 itself remains lukewarm on the prospect of accepting an 11th team on the grid as this would only dilute the prize money fund from which the teams derive the principal of their revenue, despite the requirement that new teams pay a $200 million anti-dilution fee on entry.

But Ben Sulayem believes that if Andretti-Cadillac fulfills the stringent criteria enforced by the FIA in its selection process, the latter cannot reasonably reject the American outfit's entry.

"People have to understand we are here to promote motorsport and we are here to be fair," the FIA president told AP.

"The Expressions of Interest process is very robust and there is no circumstance where we can deny any teams if they fulfil the criteria to enter.

"So imagine me saying no to someone like GM? We have in the regulations that we can go up to 12 teams. I’m not breaking [the rules].

"But do we allow anyone to enter? No. But how on earth can we refuse GM?

"I mean, where’s the common sense in this? GM is a heavyweight and when they come with Andretti, that’s good for all of us."

The FIA president says he understands Formula 1's reluctance to accept newcomers within its ranks, but he believes the time is right for new entrants to join the grid.

"I don’t blame some of the teams for being reluctant or refusing or rejecting, let’s say, because people want to sit within their own area, which means that there is no one new coming that will even challenge them," commented Ben Sulayem.

"Challenge them with maybe the performance or the financial benefits. But we believe that the conditions are right for new entrants for F1."

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