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Wolff: 11th F1 team would create safety issues

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has added safety to the debate about an 11th Formula 1 team by suggesting that circuits will be too crowded with 22 cars in the field.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

A decision is expected soon on whether or not an extra team will be invited to join the grid in the future, with the Andretti/Cadillac project being the highest profile of those who have applied.

Existing teams have consistently made clear their opposition to having a new team take a share of the championship's income, indicating that additional entrant must bring something to F1.

Despite adding the Cadillac name, Andretti is still regarded by teams as not fitting the bill, with Ferrari's Fred Vasseur noting that the series doesn't need another American squad, and Red Bull's Christian Horner dismissing Cadillac's involvement as a badging exercise.

"We have no visibility of who the applications came from and what the proposals are," said Wolff.

"I think all the stakeholders, and I think mainly the FIA and FOM who decide on such a new entry, will assess if the proposal accretive for F1, what does it bring us in terms of marketing and interest? And whether they want to think about introducing that.

"Our position was very clear - buy a team. There's a lot of consequences when you look at qualifying sessions. I mean already now we are looking like on a go-kart track, we are tripping over each other. There is a safety concern.

"We haven't got the logistics where to put an 11th team. Here in Silverstone we can accommodate the Hollywood people, but on other circuits we can't.

"Then people like Audi and now the venture capital fund [at Alpine] have been buying into F1 teams for considerably higher valuations.

"So all of that is a picture that the FIA and FOM have to assess. As I said before, if a team can contribute to the positive development of F1, and in a way that the other teams have done over the many years, have suffered over the many years, yeah, we have to look at it."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Wolff compared F1's situation with those of other sports, suggesting that new teams cannot just decide to enter.

He noted: "There is no mature sports league in the world, whether it's a national football championship, or the Champions League, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, where such a situation is possible, where you can say 'I'm just setting up the team and I'm joining, thank you very much for making me part of the prize fund.'

"You have to qualify, you have to go through the ranks, you have to showcase the commitment to the championship that we've done over the many years.

"To repeat what I said, if it's accretive, then we must look at it. So far, what we have seen hasn't convinced the teams.

"But we haven't seen the applications and submissions that were made to the FIA and to Stefano [Domenicali], and they will judge whether that is positive for F1 or not.

"But in any case, from a team owner's side, there is no league which just increases the entries, because that just dilutes the whole league."

Wolff conceded that leagues such as the NHL have let new teams in, but suggested that the incumbents had agreed as there was an overall benefit for all involved.

"The NHL has added teams, and I'm very aware of it, because they have decided to do so, all the stakeholders.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"We have done that in the past when F1 was on the brink of losing teams because of bankruptcy, we increased the number of teams and nobody complained about it.

"On the contrary, we felt that we needed to make sure that we have 10 teams on the grid and not lose any. So these two factors are very different with the NHL to the current situation.

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"I still have the belief that this is a league of franchises. And when someone comes in then it should be like in the NFL, where I say what is it that new team brings to the party, and that is, I repeat, for the FIA and FOM to decide. We can comment from the sidelines here.

"Obviously our standpoint is clear, because we would only want to have a team that brings something to the cake - an 11th team brings more than what they cost the other teams. More show, more exciting drivers."

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