Lewis Hamilton has clarified his position on Andretti’s bid to join the Formula One grid, saying he does not support the American outfit specifically but instead any team that will increase diversity in the sport.
Earlier this week, motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, issued its approval of Andretti’s plans to become the 11th team on the grid, although the American outfit still needs to reach a commercial agreement with F1 to race alongside the existing ten teams.
The news has been met by a mixed reception in the F1 paddock, with several teams speaking out against an additional team, including Aston Martin and Williams this week.
However, Hamilton appeared to be supportive of Andretti joining F1 during a press conference on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.
“I’ve always felt there wasn’t enough cars on the grid,” he said. “While there’s definitely people that won’t be happy for me to be supportive of it, I think it’s great.
“It’s an opportunity for more jobs, it’s another two seats available for a female driver to come through. It opens up more possibilities and I think it would be more exciting for the race.”
However, responding to a post on the social media platform X about those quotes, Hamilton claimed he was not speaking about Andretti specifically.
“Nope, don’t support Andretti,” he wrote. “Just the idea of another team in future if it’s a chance to make our sport more diverse.”
Asked to clarify his position on Friday after qualifying, Hamilton added: “Yeah, well firstly, it wasn’t that I support Andretti. I think from a driver’s perspective, it’s exciting to potentially see more cars. And then the idea of an 11th team, we have over 2,000 people in our team, so that’s a huge amount of jobs.
“We have to make sure that the criteria, which is quite strict, is really respected. I feel like we need to amend the criteria actually, and make sure that there’s an opportunity for real impact, making sure that if there is a new team, they have to be diverse. They have to, you know, perhaps create an opportunity for a female driver to come through. And it has to be diverse from the top down.
“At the moment, it’s all white owners, and there’s a real lack of diversity from the top down. It’s all male. And that needs to change. That’s my thought.”
Hamilton has been at the forefront of campaigns to increase diversity in F1, including setting up his own charitable foundation, Mission 44.
He said he believes F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali will make the right decisions to improve the sport overall.
“I really do have 100% faith in Stefano. I’ve known him for a long, long time. I think what he’s doing at the top, there’s no-one that could do a better job than him. I know that he will make the right decision moving forward.
“He’s a racer and he’s passionate about the growth of the sport. I’m happy to leave it in his capable hands.”