Michael Andretti takes swipe at F1: ‘Owners look out for themselves, not the series’

Michael Andretti in conversation. Austin October 2022. Credit: Alamy
Michael Andretti in conversation. Austin October 2022. Credit: Alamy

Michael Andretti said he is unsurprised at teams’ resistance to his proposed entry to Formula 1 alongside Cadillac, as he thinks existing team owners are out solely for their own interests.

The Andretti Autosports owner announced a partnership with General Motors for a joint bid to reach Formula 1 with Cadillac, shortly after FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced the opening of an ‘expressions of interest’ process for prospective new teams to join the grid.

News of Andretti’s hopeful bid to get into Formula 1 was welcomed by the sport’s governing body, but FOM [Formula One Management] responded in a somewhat cooler fashion, reiterating that Formula 1 as well as the FIA must agree to new teams coming onto the grid.

Barriers facing new teams are already significant, with the existing constructors already having a $200million entry fee written into the Concorde Agreement between themselves, Formula 1 and the FIA, to be divided among the current teams in order to compensate for as and when the sport’s revenue is split 11 ways instead of 10.

Andretti, whose organisation has recently opened a brand new factory for all its motorsport operations in Indiana, reiterated his own belief that he has everything Formula 1 requires for a new team to enter.

“We’ve been working on this for quite a while, but when the president of the FIA Mohammad Ben Sulayem issued his tweet supporting our effort, that is when we decided to make the announcement,” Andretti told Forbes.

“Once they make an expression of interest, then we are in competition with other teams, and we are on our way because that means we will do an extra team. We were very, very excited when we saw that. It all came together very nicely.

“We check all the boxes. The only box we didn’t have checked when we were working on our entry was, we didn’t have an OEM [original equipment manufacturer] behind us, but now we have GM and Cadillac behind us.

“They are going to bring a lot to the party to help us get a race car on track. We are very bullish at this moment.

“There is still a long way to go, and we are willing to follow every procedure that needs to be done. We are in a good position for it.”

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It was then put to Andretti that the sport is seemingly moving the goalposts as he looks for a way onto the grid, despite the FIA being supportive of expanding the number of cars in Formula 1.

While he said he has two “allies” in McLaren and Alpine, others have been less keen to help his cause – despite him bringing on board a significant brand in Cadillac to help his cause.

“I’m not surprised,” Andretti said. “In Formula 1, the owners look out for themselves; not what is best for the series. That is the difference between President Mohammed’s position and the team owner’s position. President Mohammed is looking out for the future of the sport.

“Mohammed gets it. He’s a racer and he understand the series needs to have one or two more teams. It is an FIA championship, and it holds most of the cards to get the expression of interest going.

“Stefano [Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO] was very happy when we brought up the name, Cadillac. It’s going to be huge for Formula 1 as well. Formula 1 is growing so much in the United States, to bring General Motors and Cadillac into Formula 1 was very big for all sides considered.

“It’s a powerful thing to bring Formula 1 into the United States.”

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