By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Formula One has played down talk of new teams lining up on the starting grid in 2021, saying there were currently ‘no serious discussions’ about such a move.
The Liberty Media-controlled sport issued a statement after some would-be entrants aired plans to enter once changes aimed at levelling the playing field and making racing more competitive and affordable come into force.
It said that while Formula One appreciated the interest of several entities, “we can confirm that there are no serious discussions with any persons or companies about the admission of a new team.”
Monaco-based MIM Group had announced earlier that they were backing a planned Spanish-based team with former grand prix driver Pascal Wehrlein as part of their prospective lineup.
There has also been talk of a planned Panthera Team Asia outfit.
The MIM group, linked to the Campos Racing Team who compete in Formula Two and Formula Three, said it had a team of experienced and highly-regarded former F1 engineers working on a preliminary study.
“The team is now at an advanced stage of negotiations with current Formula One Teams and engine manufacturers to ensure the best possible partnership for a competitive Spanish Formula One Team from 2021 and onwards,” it said.
The statement also mentioned meetings in May and July with Formula One chairman Chase Carey and motorsport managing director Ross Brawn.
Brawn said in August that “a surprising number” of entities had expressed interest in entering from 2021 but made clear that the bar would be set high and any would-be entrants would have to wait.
“What we’ve said to these teams is: let’s get these rules introduced, let’s stabilise the situation, let’s get everything working properly before we seek more teams,” Brawn said at the time.
“I think 10 healthy teams in Formula One is actually enough, and if we do get any extra teams they’ve got to really add to the show,” added the Briton.
“We must remember the history. So many small teams came and went and didn’t really add to Formula One.”
Three new teams entered in 2010, when a budget cap was proposed but never happened, but all are now defunct.
One was Campos Meta, run by former grand prix driver Adrian Campos, who struggled to find funding and were sold before a debut as Hispania, later HRT F1.
The most recent all-new entrants are U.S.-owned Haas, who made their debut in 2016 and have a close technical partnership with Ferrari.
“Joining the Formula One World Championship in 2021 shall be a long-term project,” said Campos co-owner and MIM founder Salvatore Gandolfo in the statement.
“We are aware of the big challenges ahead of us, but we have a team of experts working day and night and the financial solidity required by the FIA to make this project a success.
“With the new budget cap, the new distribution of incomes and the new technical and sporting regulations, there is a great opportunity for smaller teams to compete and ultimately to make (Formula One) more interesting and balanced again.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)