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F1 2023

Ben Sulayem insists F1 can 'sustain' itself by welcoming new manufacturers

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is convinced that F1 should encourage new manufacturers to enter the championship, with Audi already poised to join the grid.

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FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem insists that Formula 1 needs to attract new manufacturers - and in doing so can "sustain" itself.

With Audi already set to join the championship in 2026, Ben Sulayem targeted launching an 'Expression of Interest' process earlier this month, with a General Motors-backed Andretti Autosport following up by stating their intention to follow the process a couple of days later.

Current teams are resistant to any new entries onto the grid - which can feature a maximum of 26 cars, or three new squads.

However, speaking at the Dakar Rally, Ben Sulayem was firm in stating that new manufacturer involvement would be crucial for F1's sustainability in the long run.

Ben Sulayem believes manufacturers bring sustainability

Since 2010, Mercedes, Renault and Aston Martin have entered as fully fledged works squads (taking over Brawn, Lotus and Racing Point, respectively) while Honda entered in '15 before withdrawing at the end of '21, although they are interested in the rules reset coming in '26.

That package has attracted Volkswagen brand Audi, who are set to partner up with Sauber, while sister brand Porsche's deal with Red Bull fell apart after differences were found between the two parties.

And Ben Sulayem feels that having an OEM such as General Motors in F1 will only prove beneficial for everyone.

"There's two sides of sustainability, there's sustainability of the environment and the sustainability of the sport, [and] if you want to sustain the sport, you have to open it to the rest of the manufacturers," he told media in Saudi Arabia at the Dakar Rally.

"We are allowed to have 13 teams and to have a big company like GM - one of the top five [road car producers] in the world, we should be encouraging them to come to Formula 1.

"That's the way I would like to see the future with an OEM and sustainability.

"On the other side, then you have the Andretti team, but there is the due diligence [to be done] and a process [to be followed]. We will wait.

"As the FIA or the president, I didn't say yes. We opened [the process], to let them see, but are they going to succeed? Will they tick the boxes? Will they be able to be [in F1]?

"We just can't rely on what's been going on [before]."

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Ben Sulayem: F1 should welcome interest from America

F1 has experienced a popularity surge in the United States, with three Grands Prix set in 2023 in Miami, Austin and Las Vegas, as Logan Sargeant becomes the first full-time American driver to join the sport since Scott Speed in 2006.

It is something Ben Sulayem feels can be capitalised on.

"We have to look for the future, and an OEM will really push the sport further," he added.

"Everyone single partner or stakeholder there should be welcoming an OEM, especially from America because we have three races there.

"I will welcome anyone [to fill up the vacant grid spots], but proper teams.

"We accepted good, but smaller teams like Haas and Sauber and I hope this will change and we will be able to have a proper [bigger] team."

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