The battle for the potential spots on an expanded F1 grid is hotting up. Ever since the FIA formally opened the process to applicants, there’s not only been a huge debate among the sport’s governing body and the commercial rights holders about expanding, but we now have four definite bids on the table too!
The FIA has largely kept official updates about the process hush-hush, though the extended deadline for new F1 teams to apply – to join the grid in either 2025, 2026 or 2027 – passed in mid-May, with a decision on which teams if any join now expected in mid-July.
Even so, most of the information we have has come from the bidders themselves – so we thought we’d keep you posted with the runners and riders so far, starting with the obvious:
The favourite of any entries to make it. Andretti already has a large amount of racing clout in North America, with a top-level IndyCar team, an expansion into endurance racing via the IMSA SportsCar Championship and potentially the World Endurance Championship too, and are building a giant new facility at their base in Indianapolis.
They’ve also confirmed a partnership with General Motors, the US’ biggest car manufacturer if they make it to F1. That’s a big name that will only prop up the sport’s value, something Formula One Management is keen to protect (and increase).
They’ve also been the most outwardly vocal bidders so far, with Michael Andretti seen mingling in F1 paddocks looking for support. If any bid gets accepted, it’ll most likely be theirs.
Panthera Team Asia
The little-known Panthera group has been interested in cracking F1’s grid since 2019 when it first undertook development work and began to raise the capital for an entry, but the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted those plans until now. But Panthera is aiming to raise the profile of the sport in Asia.
Back in January, team founder Benjamin Durand said: “It’s been an ongoing rollercoaster.
“We still think that the Asian market and Chinese market are the next markets to be developed. They are all looking west, nobody’s looking east. Now F1 is focusing a lot on the US which is normal because it’s growing but once that market is there, Asia and Africa are the next big market for F1, especially now that Zhou [Guanyu] is in the championship.”
Craig Pollock, the former F1 team boss of British American Racing and manager to… let’s say ‘outspoken’ F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, announced earlier this year an ambitious plan to launch ‘Formula Equal’, which aims to have a 50/50 split between genders all the way through the team.
There are still questions about certain parts of that plan, with no woman currently eligible to race in F1 with a super licence, as well as funding – with Pollock admitting he may have to lean towards the Gulf countries for money.
Here come the new challengers: Hitech Pulse-Eight, who has been in F2 since 2020 and have had drivers like Liam Lawson, Juri Vips, and full-time podcaster Marcus Armstrong. They’re the fourth major party to officially lodge a bid for 2026, announcing the move publicly on Wednesday.
Hitech has recently sold a 25% stake of the team to Kazakhstan billionaire Vladimir Kim, who’s recently started dabbling in sports (Sponsoring athletes including fellow Kazakhstani, boxing World Champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin), but now Kim, who made his money in mining, wants to fully invest in motorsport for the first time.
Hitech says a successful bid would “complete its single-seater ladder [journey] and demonstrate that Hitech has all the right people, experience and resources to compete alongside the best teams in the world”.
So that’s the state of play of all the bids as the FIA and FOM continue their political battle as to whether F1 will have more than 20 cars on the grid in the years to come. We’ll keep you posted as more of the process is revealed!
Who would you like to see on the F1 grid?