McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has told Michael Andretti that he should focus on buying a team currently on the Formula 1 grid if he really wants to enter the championship in the short- to medium-term.

There is no team currently up for sale – at least, not publicly – but Brown has said that there’s always a sum of money that could induce an existing owner to come to the table and make a deal.

Andretti Cadillac’s formal bid to enter a brand new team was accepted by the FIA only to be blocked by Formula One Management (FOM) on the grounds of not adding sufficient commercial value to the sport.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem had previously backed moves to bring an 11th team into the sport but now appears to have backtracked, advising anyone wanting to enter the sport that they should “go and buy another team” instead.

Renault has denied that it would consider selling its struggling Alpine works team, while Gene Haas has consistently said that his eponymous squad was not up for sale.

But Brown said that with the right money on the table, Andretti could buy its way onto the grid as early as next season.

“That would certainly be the easiest thing to do,” Brown told ESPN this week. “There doesn’t seem to be anyone who wants to sell at the moment. But that being said, it just means the offer needs to be bigger.

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“No-one has a ‘for sale’ sign from what I can see on their front door,” he acknowledged. “[But] there’s always a number.”

The problem for Andretti is that those numbers are skyrocketing by the week. The most recent sale of a full-fledged F1 team was five years ago when the Williams family sold its squad to Dorilton Capital at what would now be a bargain price.

“These franchise values, I think Williams was bought for $150 million,” estimated Brown. “I don’t think five years later you can buy that team for less than a billion and a half. The value creation has been immense.

“Historically in Formula 1, it was enter, show up and the sport didn’t care if you didn’t make it halfway through a year,” he recalled. “So in the past you had Lola start a team and go bust after three races.

“Previously there was always a team going bust next year. Now you have over half the grid is profitable,” he said, adding that much had changed since Liberty Media bought the sport and transformed its commercial success.

Gene Haas (USA) Haas Automotion President on the grid. 02.03.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“Liberty is now in a position where you’ve got ten very healthy teams,” he pointed out. “So they’re going to hold an 11th and 12th team to the extreme highest criteria and extreme due diligence – which I think is right.”

Another factor that could change the financial equation for aspring new teams is an anticipated change to the next Concorde Agreement due to come into effect in 2026.

New teams have to pay an ‘anti-dilation’ fee of $200 million to compensate existing teams for a reduced share in the sport’s revenue, but the ballooning success of the sport makes that amount look unrealistically low.

Andretti has already secured the existing amount as part of its bid to join the grid, but the new agreement is expected toe hike this by a factor of at least two or three times.

If that were to happen then the argument for buying a team, even at current franchise valuations suddenly becomes a lot more viable to Andretti and other teams hoping to graduate to Grand Prix racing in the future.

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