F1 grid expansion axed

The FIA has closed the process for new applicants to the F1 grid having not found a suitable candidate, meaning that no more than 11 teams will fight for the championship until at least the end of 2017.

It was announced in May that motorsport’s governing body would be opening a tender for a new team to join the ranks, with submissions due by 30th June – this was later extended to 23rd July, although no reason for the additional time was given.

Autosport has now confirmed that while two teams submitted applications, neither met the criteria for the new entry process. An FIA spokesman commented: “We can confirm that the FIA received two candidate Formula 1 applications for vacant grid slots.”

“We subsequently put these through our comprehensive diligence processes. Unfortunately none of the applicants were able to meet the FIA’s criteria for new teams, despite being granted every opportunity of doing so, and we now consider this round of applications to be closed.”

No ladder from GP2

The FIA spokesman said that the governing body was not able to reveal the names of the applicants involved in the process, however it is understood that the ART Grand Prix team was not one of them – despite wide speculation about the GP2 squad’s promotion of F1 as a McLaren Honda customer team.

It is not yet clear whether either of the two bids were submitted by another GP2 team. However, if this is not the case, it raises serious questions about the current structure of the motorsport ladder, which has not yet seen a GP2 team climb that final rung into the highest level of single seaters.

If this true, then surely more must be done to support teams in graduating through the tiers of motorsport in the same manner in which drivers do.

Keeping the fans guessing

Personally I am saddened to hear that the F1 grid will not be expanding, as I truly believe that new teams would improve the show for F1’s global audience. However, I am more disappointed with the FIA’s approach, which lacks the transparency required to keep fans informed about the future of their sport.

Of course the FIA is right to enact a process of due diligence and simply adding a team that has no long-term prospects would be damaging to the sport’s reputation.

However, it once again appears that fans will only receive these insights thanks to good journalism, from the likes of Autosport. Dedicated followers will be eager to understand who applied and greater detail on why they were not successful in their bids – as transparency is the key to trust for any brand.

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