Lawmakers seek answers on Andretti’s exclusion from Formula 1

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has written to Formula 1’s owner Liberty Media demanding answers on the exclusion of Andretti Global from the glitzy sport’s starting grid.

The letter, addressed to Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, raises concerns about “apparent anti-competitive actions” keeping the team from entering a sport that has found growing popularity in the U.S., which hosts three races on the calendar.

Formula 1, commonly known as F1, officially rejected former American racing star Michael Andretti’s application to join the sport’s racing grid with a new team in January this year, citing several reasons for its decision.

Just a few months after the rejection, his father, driving legend Mario Andretti, has taken his son’s case to the halls of Congress, hoping to find powerful new support.

The letter, signed by 12 lawmakers, also cites the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, which “outlaws unreasonable restraints on market competition to produce the best outcome for the American consumer.”

The letter also questions whether the rejection was designed to unfairly protect the sport’s mainly European teams from competition in the United States.

“It is unfair and wrong to attempt to block American companies from joining Formula 1, which could also violate American antitrust laws,” the letter adds.

The lawmakers have given the sports body until the end of the week to send its response. It also notes that the lawmakers “continue to exercise oversight on this matter … to ensure that any potential violations of U.S. anti-competition laws are expeditiously investigated and pursued.”

The appeal to Congress and subsequent letter by lawmakers come during a big week for the sport, as the highly anticipated Miami Grand Prix will take place over the weekend and will see A-list stars descend on the Sunshine State.

In a press conference Wednesday, Andretti was pictured outside Congress alongside Republican Reps. John James (Mich.), Greg Pence (Ind.) and Victoria Spartz (Ind.).

The chief reason given for opposing the U.S.-based team’s entry to the sport was that F1 does not believe Andretti’s entry would add value to the championship.

Andretti has partnered with Michigan-headquartered General Motors and Cadillac to produce engines for its team, and the letter from Congress was led by James.

The other members who signed the letter include Reps. Don Davis (D-N.C.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Jake Ellzey (R-Texas), Morgan Luttrell (R-Texas), Erin Houchin (R-Ind.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), Rudy Yakym III (R-Ind.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Haley Stevens (D-Mich.).

Currently there are 10 teams featured on the sport’s starting grid and 20 drivers racing on any given Grand Prix weekend.

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