Three new GP teams which can’t score points: the proposal to stop F1 going stale


F1 needs new teams with rookie drivers on the grid, and a new plan sets out how it could do this while keeping existing constructors happy. Cambridge Kisby talks to one of its authors, Tim Milne

2024 Chinese Grand Prix grid

Room for three more?

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No new teams. No new drivers. No new venues. The 2024 season is a prime example of how F1 risks getting stuck in a rut, according to a pair of former senior team members who believe that the series needs three new teams on the grid from 2026.

They have sent a proposal to both F1 and its governing body, the FIA, calling for the teams to be given a slot on the grid during certain grands prix in a season, with at least one rookie driver per outfit. The draft plan, drawn up by former Red Bull and Force India F1 designer Lewis Butler, as well as Tim Milne, an aerodynamicist with Renault and Honda F1 teams, who now works for Asian-based LKYSUNZ — one of the teams that applied to join F1 last year.

The new teams would initially be unable to score championship points and be ineligible for prize money. Instead, they would use the races to prove that they were worthy of full F1 constructor status and the financial rewards that brings, while boosting F1’s popularity around the globe.

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“At the end of the day we’ve got a grid right now without any rookies this year,” Milne tells Motor Sport. “Do people feel that’s helpful? Why not have 26 cars on the grid, have guaranteed rookies every year? That’d create great stories. Right now, we have Oliver Bearman for one race and then [suddenly] he’s going to go back to F2. We would have rookies every season and from new markets.”

Milne and Butler’s suggestion, which would involve the new teams using identical ‘spec’ chassis and regular performance reviews, comes after LKY SUNZ and other prospective teams found it impossible to join the F1 grid, despite regulations allowing for up to 12 constructors.

Last year, the FIA invited prospective teams to send in their proposals and received applications from the likes of US-based Andretti, New Zealand’s Rodin Cars, and LKY SUNZ.

Only the Andretti bid, which included a partnership with automotive giant General Motors, was approved by the FIA, but it was then rejected by Formula 1, under pressure from the existing ten teams. Many teams are reluctant to share the revenue that’s currently divided between them, and see the $200m entry fee for any new team — set put in F1’s commercial rights deal known as the Concorde Agreement — as too cheap.

But the current Concorde Agreement is due to expire at the end of 2025. Milne and Butler say that the new deal is an opportunity to rethink the structure of the grid, to give rookies a greater opportunity and to reach areas of the globe where F1 has little presence.

“Formula 1 has evolved and grown massively since Liberty Media came in over the last four to five years,” Milne said. “You can see that in the value of the teams. But that’s not a reason to stop looking at how we need to evolve the sport moving forward. There’s clearly huge untapped markets that F1 aren’t big in. Now is probably the time to start looking at how the sport should evolve over the next five or 10 years.”

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The new teams proposal — in a nutshell 

By entering the F1 grid as non-constructors, new teams would not earn constructor points nor be eligible for any prize money — leaving the current prize pool untouched.  

The rising levels of revenue as F1 expands, combined with the cost cap that limits spending, has suddenly made teams profitable and sent values soaring towards $1bn per team.  

As such, many see the $200 buy-in price as too cheap, particularly as new teams would immediately get a share of the revenue under the current regulations. 

Under the Milne and Lewis proposal, new teams would not pay an entry fee, but would not be eligible for revenue either. Each would compete in a minimum of 14 races per year. They would all compete in eight races at circuits which could support a grid of up to 26 cars such as Silverstone, Spa or Monza. 

In addition, they would also join the grid at a further six ‘home’ races, without one or two of the others. An American team such as Andretti would likely concentrate on entering races in Miami, Austin and Las Vegas, while LKY SUNZ would want to compete in races in Japan, China and Singapore. 

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Each outfit would be contractually obligated to run at least one rookie driver per season alongside another from their home nation. They would also have to establish a HQ in a country that’s not occupied by another F1 team, and develop their fan engagement, driver development, technical training facilities and market revenue streams over a total of five seasons.  

The proposal also suggests that any non-constructor teams would operate under a limited engineering model, in which they would all use the same chassis, made by the same manufacturer, and have use of an FIA-approved suite of engineering tools which would ensure a baseline level of performance.  

“The intention of the limited engineering model was really to answer the question that F1 came out with in January, where they didn’t feel that Andretti could arrive in 2025 or 2026 and be competitive.” said Milne. “I think you have to respect that view and understand quite the level of infrastructure and engineering capability that any of the existing teams have. 

“To put all that in place, and to get to a point where you’ve got the right staff, the right tools, and the right infrastructure to design a competitive Formula 1 team is not the work of a couple of years. Even if you’ve got the money to throw at it that Andretti clearly have, and actually that LKY SUNZ have as well, it’s a 4-5 year project. 

“That to me seems like a wasted opportunity when you could have a monocoque designed to F1 regulations, but supplied by a single supplier, whether that’s Dallara or from another option in Europe. This would get the new teams to focus on the core performance-differentiating disciplines between the teams: aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics, race engineering, tyres etc. 

“Don’t be under any illusion, that’s still a huge undertaking to get all of those things up to the level that you need them at. I just think there’s an opportunity for a suite of tools and a little bit of engineering support to be given to those teams, just to try and ensure that they arrive with a fighting chance of being sensibly competitive.” 

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A “limited engineering model” would ensure new teams were competitive almost immediately


After 1.5 seasons of racing, each non-constructor would be assessed. If they have met certain criteria, which includes exceeding a threshold of revenue expansion and fan engagement, establishing a HQ and manufacturing facilities as well as being an acceptable on-track competitor — measured in the percentage of racing laps completed and racing within a percentage of lap time during “key sessions” — the team could be promoted to full F1 constructor status from the start of their fourth racing season. 

If they are unsuccessful, they will be re-evaluated again in another 1.5 seasons. Should they reach the end of their 5th racing season and still be deemed unworthy of constructor status, they could be put onto a “special measures plan” or ejected from F1 entirely. 

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“What I’ve tried to put together is very much a proposal that deals with the concerns of the teams and FOM,” said Milne. “If you’re going to bring new teams in then the existing teams have to support it. They’re the people that have done the hard yards in building the sport up to what it is today. They’ve got assets that are worth something around a billion dollars each and it’s right that they they want to protect that. It’s also right that FOM and the FIA want to protect that too.” 

Milne believes that the proposal’s chances of success are slim and isn’t “egotistical enough” to believe that it’s not flawed in its current form. “It’s intended as a starting point for discussion,” said Milne. “This is really for the wider F1 community, to just have a think about how they want the sport to evolve. It’s a discussion document. It’s something that aims to spark other ideas and get people talking about how we can use new teams coming in to really move the sport forward. 

“I’d never imagine that it would get picked up and implemented exactly how it’s written but I’d like to think that the FIA and 1 would engage in the discussion on it. At the end of the day I think a more effective way [of letting new teams enter the championship] than by simply charging a $600 million anti-dilution fee.”