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Andretti Teams with GM to Join F1 Grid

Sports

Mario Andretti walks in the paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of USA at Circuit of The Americas in October. | Image by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

As Formula 1 racing’s international popularity soars, its governing body, the FIA, announced that it was accepting expressions of interest from potential new teams, which prompted a tectonic announcement from a premier motorsport team and one of the United States’ largest auto manufacturers.

For years, Michael Andretti, son of the last American Formula 1 champion Mario Andretti, has tried to gain entry into the sport with a new team but has been stonewalled.

Andretti even attempted to purchase a controlling stake in an existing Formula 1 team, Sauber, in 2021, but the deal fell through.

The rollercoaster began when the president of the sports governing body, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, announced he was opening the door for “expressions of interest” from prospective new teams.

“I have asked my [FIA] team to look at launching an Expressions of Interest process for prospective new teams for the FIA World Championship,” Ben Sulayem tweeted on January 2.

Three days later, Andretti announced that his motorsport organization, Andretti Global, was teaming up with General Motors (GM) to make a run at earning a spot on the Formula 1 grid.

Adding to the excitement, Andretti and GM announced that they would feature the automaker’s Cadillac brand, similar to how French automaker Renault currently features its Alpine brand for its Formula 1 team.

“Proud to announce our Andretti Global partnership with GM Cadillac as we pursue the opportunity to compete in the FIA F1 World Championship,” Andretti himself tweeted, making the bid public.

The tweet was accompanied by an image that read, “Two icons. One purpose.”

Andretti has also indicated that at least one of the two drivers of the potential team would be an American. He has suggested that Andretti IndyCar driver Colton Herta is at the top of his list.

Ben Sulayem acknowledged the historic bid while also touting the governing body’s success in expanding the sport.

“Today’s news from the United States is further proof of the popularity and growth of the FIA Formula One World Championship under the FIA’s stewardship,” he remarked.

“It is particularly pleasing to have interest from two iconic brands such as General Motors Cadillac and Andretti Global,” he added.

The sport’s current 10 teams have been reluctant to expand the field of competitors out of concern for the sustainability of Formula 1 economics.

Mercedes CEO and Team Principal Toto Wolff has primarily led the charge against the sport’s expansion, citing fears that a new team or teams will not create enough value to justify their existence.

“If a team comes in, how can you prove they’re bringing in more money than they’re costing?” Wolff argued recently. “Because the 11th team means a 10% dilution [of prize money] for all the others.”

Whether Wolff’s concerns are valid remains to be seen. Still, the marriage of one of the world’s top motorsports outfits and an iconic automaker represents the most substantial bid to enter the sport in decades.

The last time the FIA opened the sport up to expressions of interest was in 2016, which ultimately led to adding the Haas Formula 1 racing team to the grid.

While there is no set timeline for resolution, in 2016, about three months passed from allowing bids to formally accepting Haas into the sport.

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