Could A Soccer-Style Promotion And Relegation System Get Andretti Into Formula 1?

F1 Grand Prix Of Bahrain
F1 Grand Prix Of Bahrain

It might seem a little out there, but could a soccer-style promotion and relegation system get Andretti into Formula 1?

Andretti Autosport was recently blocked from entering F1 as a constructor. This was a very unpopular decision with the fans of the pinnacle of motorsport and people who work within Formula 1.

The reasoning given by the sport’s governing body hasn’t left us with much hope that Andretti could ever join, but what if there was another way? What if F1 had promotion and relegation like most professional football leagues?

Well, I’m going to explore this possibility and see how realistic of a prospect this could be in the future.

Could A Soccer-Style Promotion And Relegation System Get Andretti Into Formula 1?

For those that aren’t football fans, this concept may seem a little alien, but I’ll briefly explain what promotion and relegation is in football. Using the English football leagues as an example, the worst three clubs over the course of a Premier League season are relegated to the Championship (second tier).

Similarly, in the Championship, the top two sides in terms of points over the course of a season are promoted to the Premier League, along with a third side that wins the play-offs. Different leagues have alternate ways of determining promotion/ relegation, but the concept is always relatively the same.

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So, some may point to Formula 1’s direct feeder series, Formula 2 as being the “division” that F1 could have promotion and relegation from. However, we’re going to opt for something slightly different, as although it would be nice to see the likes of Prema, Trident and Carlin compete for a spot in F1, that’s never going to work.

While teams such as Jordan, Stewart and others have gone from Formula 2 (or as it was known back then, Formula 3000) in the past, this is something that wouldn’t work now. The performance and financial jump required for an F2 to go to F1 is massive and one a gap that nobody in F2 could close.

So, how would this work?

Formula 1.5

It is a joke within the Formula 1 online fandom that the likes of Williams and Haas in recent seasons have been competing in “Formula 1.5” and not F1 due to their lack of pace. So far, it looks like Alpine are the outfit that will receive that dishonourable title in 2024.

For the sake of this example, we’re going to call this new league Formula 1.5, but if it did ever happen, the FIA would brand it “Formula Development” or something similar like they did with F1 Academy.

Formula 1 2024: Bahrain Gp

F1.5 would follow the F1 paddock around the world, or at a reduced schedule like F2, F3 and F1 Academy to save costs. The entry requirements in terms of finances would be far lower than F1’s “dilution” fee, which is rumoured to be increased from $200m to over $500m in the near future.

Teams will enter two stock Formula cars that are similar in pace to F1 cars. This will get the drivers and teams used to the pace and performance of Grand Prix cars before they make it to F1. The identical performance of the cars will also incentify teams to create alternative strategies and highlight the skills of their drivers rather than the cars they’re driving.

In terms of the promotion and relegation, the top F1.5 team will replace the worst F1 team ahead of the following season. We’ll give the F1 teams time to adapt to these changes, so we’ll give them all three seasons before these new rules are put into place.

Speaking of new rules, ideas that F1 has could be tested in F1.5 before being rolled out to the main series, if they’re deemed to be a success. A limit of 13 teams will be placed on the F1.5 series, as 26 cars is traditionally the limit for F1 cars allowed to start a Grand Prix.

The points structure, TV graphics and racing rules will be the same as F1. F1.5 will be just like F1, but this will keep the current ten teams happy that their revenue will stay intact while also potentially helping to attract more new fans with what will no doubt be close and action-packed racing.

This is all a little ridiculous

Now, if you’ve been reading this piece and thinking that this suggestion is ridiculous, I’m sure you won’t be alone in that. That is kind of the point, though, as this thought experiment is meant to show how insane Formula 1’s entry rules have become.

Formula 1 and the ten teams don’t want an eleventh constructor, but they can’t outright shut that door. But a bit like democracy in Russia, this path doesn’t exist. F1 may say that new teams are welcome to join, but in reality, as many obsticles will be placed in their ways to make it impossible to practically join.

NASCAR vs F1 Revenue Comparison

At this point, Andretti’s most realistic way to join F1 would be to buy out a struggling team like Alpine, as has been rumoured. In fact, the boss of General Motors has refused to accept F1’s decision and the next step in this saga could be a legal battle.

This is all happening against the backdrop of multiple controversies in F1, as the sport’s reputation is in the toilet right now. Hornergate refuses to go away, with the alleged victim now lodging a complaint against Horner with the FIA.

There is of course the alleged race fixing and abuse of power by the FIA’s own president to consider too, all contributing to a PR nightmare for F1. At this point, F1.5 being announced would probably go down relatively well. At least it wouldn’t be another Verstappen win, which is all that seems to be happening on track at the moment.

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