Formula One has multiple inquiries from potential team owners who have taken a more behind-the-scenes approach than Michael Andretti, who has been “quite vocal” in his desire to expand the current grid, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said Wednesday.
He said this week he’s building a 575,000 square-foot facility on roughly 90 acres in Fishers, Indiana, to house Andretti Global. But he’s still no closer to landing an F1 team, and Domenicali offered very little update specific to Andretti.
“The status of Formula One, it is not a problem of quantity,” Domenicali said. “It’s a matter of understanding not only the ones who have a bigger, louder voice, but there will be other people because Andretti was quite vocal about his request.
“But there are others that have done the same in a different way. So we will listen not only to Andretti, but to others that are respecting the silence on trying to be more productive on proving who they are and respecting the protocol.”
At issue is what value – if any – comes with expanding the current 20-car grid.
Mercedes head Toto Wolff has been vehemently against expansion and argued it only will decrease profits as the pot would be split between 11 teams instead of 10. But McLaren boss Zak Brown has argued adding the Andretti name would increase North American interest and signing U.S.-based sponsors based on Andretti’s participation would compensate for any dilution to the purse.
Wolff has dismissed the notion the Andretti name brings any value to F1. Mario Andretti is the 1978 F1 world champion; Michael Andretti spent one unremarkable season driving in the series.
And even though Andretti has had discussions with Renault about entering F1, Wolff has been supportive only of a potential Audi-backed effort.
“Andretti is a great name, and I think they have done exceptional things in the U.S.,” Wolff recently said. “But this is sport and this is business and we need to understand what is it that you can provide to the sport.”
The resistance has irritated Mario Andretti, who replied on Twitter to a question asking if Wolff is too powerful for F1 with: “This needed to be said; it’s about time.”
Domenicali said Wednesday that Wolff has earned his respect in F1 and is a credible voice in the series. He also indicated all the back-and-forth on the Andretti issue is a moot point because the decision will be made by a governing body and not Wolff and the current team principals.
“Mario, I know him very, very well, and he is trying to present his idea in a way that he thought is the right way to do that,” Domenicali said. “But I do believe there is a governance in place, and the decision has to follow the process, and the protocol that is in place.
“Mario is very vocal, Michael is, too. We need to respect that we may have a difference of opinions, but at the end of the day it is a matter of following the protocol, and there is someone that is to make the final decision.”
2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s
After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.
Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.
Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.
Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.
Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.
After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.
The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.
Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.
It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.
Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.
Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.
Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.
Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.
Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
Max Anstie – E
Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
Haiden Deegan – E
Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
Mitchell Oldenburg – W
Michael Mosiman – E
Jeremy Martin – E
Tom Vialle – E
Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
Chance Hymas – E
Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
Max Vohland – W
Cullin Park – E
Chris Blose – E
Derek Kelley – W
Enzo Lopes – W
Pierce Brown – W
* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.