It looks like Andretti Autosport isn’t the only team hoping to join the Formula 1 grid in the near future. Panthera Team Asia F1 has also expressed its desire to join the sport, with co-founder and team principal Benjamin Durand stating that the Asian market is the next big market for F1, especially now that Zhou Guanyu is in the championship.
Panthera Team Asia F1 is still eager to join the Formula 1 grid in 2026, Durand stated during an interview with Planet F1:
“It’s been a 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.”
Durand went on to discuss the challenges the team has faced, saying:
“The particular issue you have when you want to try to create a Formula 1 team is to have all the planets align. So when we had the money, the FIA and F1 were not ready because at the time they were renegotiating the Concorde Agreement.
“So they were not ready to have new teams arriving until they signed the existing teams. Then we also talked with Renault to be partners on the technical side. They went through a lot of management changes during the last five years and it impacted our project directly. Things were back again for the possibility for us to enter then the pandemic arrived and we lost funding. So we had to work again on the financial side. It’s an ongoing rollercoaster.”
Durand also mentioned the team’s potential to speak with Calvin Lo, a Hong Kong billionaire who has also expressed interest in joining Formula 1. Durand stated:
“We haven’t talked to Calvin Lo right now. It was interesting to see his comments in the press because he’s saying basically also what we’re saying that the Asian market isn’t the focus right now, the US is. So everybody’s looking over there. They’re all looking west. Nobody’s looking east which is a mistake but also good for us because this is what we can bring.
“So there are a lot of things that are in line with Calvin Lo. I don’t have details about his project but we are open to everything. We are still in the stage if whoever comes can bring us something that can reinforce our project and reinforce the bid for F1 [then that is good].”
Despite the challenges, Panthera Team Asia F1 remains determined to join the sport and bring a much-needed Asian presence to Formula 1. Durand believes that the Asian market, including China, is being overlooked by the sport, which is currently focusing heavily on the US market. He believes that once the US market is fully developed, Asia and Africa will be the next big markets for the sport, and Panthera hopes to be a part of that expansion.