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Ben Sulayem expressed his surprise to some adverse reactions to the Cadillac/Andretti announcement adding the news of new teams entering should be encouraged by all. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has welcomed the news of the Cadillac and Andretti partnership’s intention to enter the Formula One World Championship along with a renewed bid from Panthera Team Asia in the wake of the FIA’s invitation calling for Expressions of Interest for prospective new teams to enter the World Championship.

The invitation for Expressions of Interest remains open and follows on from the announcement last year of Audi’s commitment to enter the World Championship from 2026 which will coincide with new Power Unit (PU) regulations.

General Motors’ intention to enter in 2026 will see Cadillac make its Formula One debut, 124 years after the company was founded and will expand its current motorsport program which includes entries in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the North American-based IMSA endurance racing series.

“I asked my FIA team to look at launching an Expressions of Interest process and welcome the news of the Cadillac and Andretti partnership. The FIA looks forward to further discussions on the FIA F1 World Championship Expressions of Interest process,” Ben Sulayem said.

Adverse reaction

The President also expressed his surprise to some adverse reactions to the Cadillac/Andretti announcement adding the news of new teams entering should be encouraged by all.

“The FIA has accepted entries of smaller, successful organisations in recent years and we should be encouraging prospective F1 entries from global manufacturers like General Motors and thoroughbred racers like Andretti Global and others. Interest from teams in growth markets adds diversity and broadens F1’s appeal and it is surprising that there has been some adverse reaction to this announcement.

“We’re talking about credibility with this process because when somebody enquires, they need to show commitment for the long term to help sustain the sport and the way we do that is by having credible OEMs, so I’m talking about General Motors, one of the five biggest in the world.

“We have to encourage people like GM President Mark Reuss who are proposing a big team from the United States because this is important for Formula One and I can see that we have previously accepted some good teams, but they are not as big as GM. There is a lot of due diligence, the governance is there and if they succeed, we want them to succeed and I’m sure that Liberty would also like to see this.”

Panthera Team Asia also accepted the invitation after an initial attempt to enter Formula 1 in 2019 was delayed due to the emergence of the COVID pandemic. The arrival of Zhou Guanyu as F1’s first Chinese driver and Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda renewing his contract with the AlphaTauri team were seen as positive indicators for Panthera to add an Asian-focused team to the World Championship.

“I believe that we have not scratched the surface in Asia. There are 2.8 billion people between China and India alone and yet the number of sporting licences issued for both regions combined is under 1000 or less than Finland.

“If China enters Formula 1 with a Chinese manufacturer, driver and an event, this is incredibly encouraging but equally, I respect existing teams budgets and if I am convinced that any new entity does not consist of the right people or the right team, then we will protect the sport from having someone trying to enter who is not serious.”

Technical ability

The precise terms of the conditions of an expression of interest will be made available to applicants in due course and covers areas including the technical ability and resources of the team; the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the championship at a competitive level; the team’s experience and human resources and the assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the Championship.

Any additional entries would build on the positive acceptance of the FIA’s 2026 PU regulations which has already attracted an entry from Audi.

“Any Expressions of Interest process will follow strict FIA protocol and will take several months and any additional entries would build on the positive acceptance of the FIA’s 2026 PU regulations among manufacturers which has already attracted an entry from Audi.”

The 2023 Formula One World championship begins with pre-season testing in Bahrain from February 23 with the first round of the championship starting on March 3 in Sakhir for the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.