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Steiner: Haas wouldn't have been able to join F1 today amid 11th team talk

Guenther Steiner says his Haas team wouldn't have been able to join Formula 1 today due to the progress the series has made, amid objections over expanding the grid.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Several parties, including American powerhouse Andretti, have lodged their interest in joining the F1 grid as an 11th team, with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem keen on expanding the current grid of 10 teams.

Ben Sulayem says it is the FIA's duty to follow the regulations, which cater for up to 12 teams, as he eyes manufacturer involvement from the US and China.

"We have a contract [with Formula 1] that says we can have up to 12 teams. We are not breaking any rules; on the contrary, we are following the rules exactly;" Sulayem told Autosport earlier this summer.

But F1's existing 10 teams don't share his enthusiasm for new entrants due to having to share their revenue with more parties, as well as citing concerns about the series' stability and logistics, a stance which has been met with great frustration by Michael Andretti.

The bar to be admitted into F1 has been elevated to such a degree in recent years, thanks to the series' popularity boom and its budget cap, that Steiner admits his Haas team wouldn't have been able to join the grid now.

"No, it's not possible," Steiner told Autosport in an exclusive interview. "The sport has changed so much. If you start as a privateer at the moment, you wouldn't join."

Steiner says Volkswagen opting to buy its way into the Sauber outfit rather than starting afresh points to how challenging it now is to start from a clean slate.

Oliver Hoffmann, Head of Technical Development at Audi Sport GmbH, with Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, with the new Audi Sport concept car

Oliver Hoffmann, Head of Technical Development at Audi Sport GmbH, with Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, with the new Audi Sport concept car

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"The Volkswagen Group, they're pretty strong. They raced for a long time, they won Le Mans I don't know how many times. They know about the sport when they decided not to make a new team, they decided to buy one.

"It is very difficult now to put it up. And that's a risk as well. If you get an 11th team and they don't make it, what does that do to this sport? Because we always think: 'Oh, it will be for sure a success.' It could be a failure as well."

It has been mooted that F1's $200m anti-dilution fee a new entrant would have to pay the other teams to make up for their loss of prize money, would have to be at least tripled to represent the added value that an entry represents in F1's current seller's market.

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When asked what would make the difference to convince FOM to allow another team in, Steiner said: "I don't even know what the difference would be.

"Is there such a big upside that we're all happy to say yes? And it will be still difficult logistically. If it happens it will be very difficult in a lot of other things, even if there's an upside for everybody.

"Just to clarify, the teams cannot make a decision. We don't have a vote in this process. This is FOM and the FIA who decide what is happening there.

"We have got 10 very strong teams at the moment. We always need to go back to what do you want to risk for a little bit of an uplift than keep it stable.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the Team Prinicpal's Press Conference

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the Team Prinicpal's Press Conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"There's no point in having seven teams which are not safe instead of having 10 very solid teams.

"I think it's not all about money. The 10 teams that are here have invested a lot of money in the sport and took it where it is, so they should have an upside now. It's not about Andretti, it's about 11 teams."

When asked about the skyrocketing value of F1 teams, which has vindicated owner Gene Haas' decision to stick with the team through its perilous Rich Energy and Uralkali days, Steiner said:

"Who couldn't be happy with what F1 has done? 

"Who could have seen five years ago where F1 would be in five years? Everybody would have signed up for half of this. 

"We were always in a good place but now we're in a very good place. 

"What FOM and Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO] are doing... this sport is as popular as it never was before. Having one of 10 Formula 1 teams at the moment is a good place to be."

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