LOSAIL, Qatar — Lewis Hamilton believes Formula One should embrace Andretti’s proposed entry to the sport as an 11th team due to the opportunities it would create and the added excitement it would bring to racing.
This week the sport’s governing body, the FIA, formally approved Andretti’s bid to join the F1 grid in future, although the American team still needs approval from F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media to actually secure a spot.
That may be tricky, with several teams opposed to the idea — on Thursday, Aston Martin boss Lawrence Stroll said F1 would be better off sticking with the existing 10.
Asked about the issue ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix, Hamilton disagreed.
“I think it’s great,” Hamilton said. “I’ve always felt there wasn’t enough cars on the grid.
“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.”
Andretti, son of 1978 F1 champion Mario, won one CART championship as a driver and has won four IndyCar titles and five Indy 500s as a team boss.
His F1 entry, if approved, would include a partnership with General Motors and Cadillac.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has first-hand experience with Michael Andretti’s racing operation, having contested the 2017 Indy 500 in a joint partnership with McLaren.
Alonso stopped short of supporting the bid outright and said whatever decision F1 took would be the correct one.
“A great team,” Alonso said on Thursday. “I know Michael and it would obviously be a great name to add to Formula One but there are other people in charge of this kind of decision. First the FIA, and then FOM [Formula One Management] and the teams as well. For me, I don’t know exactly what to say, whatever is the final decision is going to be OK.
“I like Michael, I like the organization, but I also understand other things and I will support as well whatever Aston Martin’s position is and I will be OK with anything.”
Max Verstappen, who needs just three points from Saturday’s sprint race to be crowned champion, would also like to see a new team on the grid.
“I speak from the driver’s side, but of course I’m not a team owner, so I can understand their side,” Verstappen said. “Everything I’ve seen so far, plus I think the partners they have and the name, they have shown they are a professional team.
“It would be I think nice, because I think it gives more opportunities for the drivers’ side. But I can understand from the team’s side, they don’t want it. It’s a tricky one, it’s a tough one. And at the end of the day, the FIA and the teams, and FOM, they have more information about how serious everything is and how well everything is prepared. That’s why it’s not going to be a very easy decision to make.”
There is no timeline for a decision on Andretti’s bid.