F1’s call to reject an Andretti Cadillac team just doesn’t make sense


Formula One has formally rejected the bid by Andretti Cadillac to join the grid as the sport’s eleventh team from 2025, releasing an emphatic statement to shut down the FIA-approved prospective entry.

“Our research indicates that F1 would bring more value to the Andretti brand, rather than the other way around,” was the cold summation of the statement published by Formula One, which also heavily reiterated that the American motorsports giant would bring neither value nor competitiveness to the sport.

Racers at the Italian F1 Grand Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

“The Applicant proposes, as a novice constructor, to design and build a car under the 2025 regulations, and then in the very next year to design and build a completely different car under the 2026 regulations. Further, the Applicant proposes to attempt this with a dependency on a compulsory supply from a rival PU manufacturer that will inevitably be reticent to extend its collaboration with the Applicant beyond the minimum required while the Applicant pursues its ambition of collaborating with GM as a PU supplier in the longer term, which a compulsory PU supplier would see as a risk to its intellectual property and know-how.”

Essentially, this means Andretti is being told they should come back and try again in 2028, when it has guaranteed that their engine partner in Cadillac will have its own power unit, rather than going into a short-term supply deal as previously suggested with the customer-less Renault from 2025.

Announced back in November, General Motors committed to a fully-fledged engine program to rival their fellow Detroit based automakers in Ford – who’ll be badging Red Bull Powertrains from 2026. Even the allure of having global automotive giant GM represented in F1 wasn’t enough of a dangling golden carrot to budge them from their staunch position.

Michael Andretti, son of 1978 F1 world champion Mario and owner of the Andretti racing empire operating in IndyCar, Formula E and Extreme E, also part owns Walkinshaw Andretti United in Supercars and collab with Wayne Taylor Racing in sportscars. He was more than willing to pay the exorbitant $200 million anti-dilution fee for its Formula One entry, designed to offset any significant losses of revenue the existing ten teams would face in splitting prizemoney with a new entity.

Michael Andretti. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

An eye-watering sum, yet still one F1’s existing teams believe to be too low and could yet be increased in the next Concorde Agreement set to be in place from the 2026 season.

Putting aside the fact the FIA and Formula One have been consistently at loggerheads in recent years due to the continual interference from President Mohammad Ben Sulayem – this is one of those situations where F1’s positioning is bemusing, even borderline farcical.

Were this some relatively unknown entity with minimal credentials seeking a Formula One berth, it would be fair to understand the commercial rights body’s stonewalling approach. After all, the cautionary tale of the much anticipated three new teams of 2010 holds strong today. Many of the stringent vetting procedures between the FIA and F1 exist today to avoid a repeat of fates that awaited the defunct triumvirate.

Even Formula One’s youngest team in Haas, who burst onto the scene in 2016 with their unique model of outsourcing the chassis build and then buying in as many parts as possible from technical partner Ferrari, would likely fail to garner a berth should it have sought an application today.

Speaking of the Haas-shaped elephant in the room, to state Andretti would add little-or-no value to Formula One as an eleventh team also quietly says the Gene Haas owned, quasi-American outfit does.

This is a team that despite the owner preaching performance following the dismissal of long-term Team Principal Guenther Steiner, still has little prospect in addressing fundamental car issues that are preventing them in gaining performance.

Mick Schumacher’s Haas car from F1 season 2022. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Haas’ presence in Formula One seems to be fulfilled by the fact that under the $135 million cost cap, a lacklustre team like his can still be profitable – even if it finishes last.

Forbes in 2023 valued Haas at $780 million, with a projected revenue stream of $180 million and $60 million in prize money for finishing tenth. Talk about rewarding mediocrity.

So when Formula One spruiks the prestige verse, it’s difficult not to guffaw at the roll-off-the-tongue ‘Visa Cash App Racing Bulls’ outfit or ‘Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber’.

Where is the prestige in lousy naming rights deals and teams branded with stickers traditionally found on EFTPOS terminals? Granted at least with Sauber, it is an interim exercise ahead of the scheduled Audi takeover in 2026.

Protecting the existing teams, which thanks to the work of Liberty Media as the commercial rights holders since 2017, are profitable – is a priority. Though there’s a very dogmatic view from the media giant that Andretti isn’t going to bolster their overall profitability, as well as strengthen the competition.

A likely fallacy, which is widely hoped that by 2028 when a pair of Gainbridge and DHL sponsored, Cadillac powered Andretti F1 cars turn a wheel in anger, will be disproven and demonstrate they’re not on the world’s most exclusive motorsport stage to collect a paycheck. How’s that for value, competitiveness and prestige?

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