Williams team boss James Walls said his team was firmly opposed to Andretti joining Formula One as an 11th team.
Racing governing body the FIA this week approved Andretti’s bid to join the circuit in the future, but for this to happen it must be accepted by F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media.
Although F1 does not have a clear timetable, a decision may be made in 2026. Sources told that the process could last until early next year.
F1 teams would be vehemently opposed at worst and skeptical at best, with Williams falling into the former category for fear of revenue being diluted by another entity sharing F1 prize money.
Despite its illustrious history, Williams remains one of F1’s smallest teams and has endured a difficult time on the track over the past decade – its last five championship finishes have been 10th, 10th, 10th, and 10th. 10th, 8th, 10th.
“My thoughts are very clear. Williams is opposed to adding an eleventh team and is very strongly opposed to it, but I will explain the reasons and reasons behind it,” Walls told Andretti ahead of this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.
“My responsibility is to 900 employees and if you go to Companies House you can go and look up Williams, they have submitted it now and you can go and look at the losses from 2021 to 2022. The losses are in the hundreds of millions or more. , you won’t see that compared to 2023, but I guarantee you it’s several times that number.
“The reason we invest in the sport is to make it better and we believe in the way the sport is growing and the direction it’s headed.”
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Williams reported revenue of £142.8m in 2022, up from £96.4m in 2021 and £48.6m in 2020.
Its loss after tax in 2022 was £17.9 million, compared with £11.9 million in 2021 and £58.5 million in 2020. F1’s 2020 season started late and was significantly shortened due to the epidemic.
Andretti’s F1 bid, which included partnerships with General Motors and Cadillac, was first mentioned earlier this year, and the team’s feelings about it were already clear at the time.
Team owner Michael Andretti, son of 1978 world champion Michael and hoping to compete, responded by calling F1’s 10 teams “greedy”.
Walls says it’s not a question of greed, but of making sure F1 is in a healthy state before accepting new entrants.
“I think we actually used to be a sustainable entity. The teams were working more closely together, we were racing more closely, but it should be understood that it wasn’t just our financial situation that was precarious, I would say probably half of it. ‘s fleets are financially unstable. ” ‘t.
“I would say adding an eleventh team is a smart thing to do, but only if the tenth team is financially stable.
“We believe in what we’re doing and invested in what we’re doing, but we need to look after that as a sport and everyone says we’re in a good position – and in some ways we are. , but now the fact that these are literally tens or hundreds of millions as you’re going to see very quickly, investments are made to make the sport better, so it’s clear why we’re very careful to dilute what we already have.
“We’re more than happy to bring in new entities, but the pie has to get bigger because of it, not smaller.”
Perhaps a little hostile, Walls said Williams would be willing to work with an engine manufacturer like GM if GM decided to enter F1 without Andretti – something he later clarified had not been done such discussion.
“Just to be clear, (the team’s position) is not against Andretti or GM, quite the opposite. I welcome GM with open arms, Williams welcomes GM with open arms, and if things don’t work out, I want to have a relationship with them. .
“They’re an incredible entity and I think they’re going to make the sport better, so we’re not closed-minded about the people who play the sport, but we’re very careful about protecting what we have now. A sport.”