Lewis Hamilton has thrown his full support behind the potential entry of Michael Andretti’s team into Formula One. The seven-time world champion driver believes that such a move would benefit the sport in various ways, although he acknowledges that his opinion might not sit well with many in the F1 paddock.
Formula One has not had 11 teams on the grid since 2016. However, earlier this week, the FIA approved Andretti’s application to join F1. The next steps involve Formula One Management and the existing teams, who have the power to veto the entry. Formula One Management and some teams have previously voiced opposition to expanding the grid, citing commercial concerns and questioning whether adding another team would enhance the sport in any way.
Nevertheless, speaking ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend, Lewis Hamilton expressed his belief that Andretti’s entry would be a positive development. He remarked, “It’s an opportunity for more job opportunities and two additional seats for potential female drivers to emerge. It opens up new possibilities, and I think it would bring excitement to the racing.”
Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Formula One, and several team principals have consistently stated their view that a 10-team grid is currently the ideal size. There is also concern from a financial perspective that any additional entry might negatively impact teams’ earnings without necessarily improving the sport’s revenue-generating capabilities. Hamilton recognized that his stance might differ from that of team owners, saying, “I’ve always felt that there weren’t enough cars on the grid. So, while there will definitely be individuals who won’t appreciate my strong support for it, I think it’s fantastic.”
Andretti’s team has experienced success in other racing series, including four IndyCar championships, six Indy 500 victories, and the 2023 Formula E drivers’ title. Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion, echoed Hamilton’s sentiment, expressing his support for the potential entry. Verstappen, who could secure his third title in Saturday’s sprint race at the Lusail circuit with just three more points, stated, “From everything I’ve seen so far – along with the partners they have and their reputation – they have demonstrated that they are a professional team. So, it would be a positive move because it creates more opportunities for drivers.”
Verstappen only needs a sixth-place finish or better on Saturday to clinch the title, which would make him the first driver to secure the championship in the relatively new sprint race format.