Andretti takeover of Alfa Romeo’s F1 team will not go ahead

2021 F1 season

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Michael Andretti’s hopes of acquiring a Formula 1 team have been frustrated, for the time being at least.

The CART Indycar champion turned motorsport team principal has been unsuccessful in his attempt to acquire Sauber, which operates the Alfa Romeo-branded F1 team, RaceFans understands from sources.

Andretti had been linked to a purchase of the team, which was acquired by Longbow Finance in 2016. It has run under the Alfa Romeo name in a branding deal since 2019.

The parties are believed to have failed to agree terms for a sale. Andretti’s potential takeover did not involve the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) which he announced in March.

“We have no comment to make about these rumours,” an Alfa Romeo spokesperson told RaceFans. “Any discussion, past, present or future in relation to the ownership of the team is the responsibility of the shareholders and not something about which the team will offer any statement.”

Andretti’s interest in the team prompted speculation Colton Herta – his IndyCar driver who won the last two races of the season this year – could join F1, despite being ineligible for a superlicence in 2022.

Guanyu Zhou is still considered favourite for the second drive at the team alongside Valtteri Bottas. Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur previously said he wanted to gauge the performance of drivers in Formula 2 before making his decision. Sauber-backed driver Theo Pourchaire is also thought to be under consideration, but Vasseur has indicated Zhou’s fellow Alpine junior driver Oscar Piastri, who is currently leading the F2 points standings, is not.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 28 comments on “Andretti takeover of Alfa Romeo’s F1 team will not go ahead”

    1. A shame, I wanted this to happen.

    2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      27th October 2021, 16:37

      This is the perfect example of what we are missing out on with the ridiculous financial requirements facing brand new teams when entering F1.

      If there was no $200m entry fee (or whatever its is) I feel sure Andretti might have considered starting a new team from scratch. As it is perhaps a F2 team might be an alternative?

      Either way we are missing out here. Very sad.

      1. All sorts of people would consider entering a new team, look at those nice financial incentives offered to the team already in F1.

        That is, understandably, not what Liberty are looking for an a new entrant, and I support them and the current rules in that respect.

      2. I agree. F1 needs more teams. Nevertheless, this is Liberty Media’s problem.

      3. What’s the reason for the fee? Is it so that some clowns can’t come in, drive around the back at 107 percent, and then collect a cut of prize money at the end of the year, because that’s bad for the sport? When you have a sport where basically only 2 or at most 3 teams will realistically be in for a title this seems like a problem to address—why pour money into your team when what you get out is low and fixed.

        1. The existing teams are loath to forgo or give up any share of the existing prize pool. A new team coming in would do just that. Possibly not immediately, but within 2 years. Consider the fighting that took place when Force-India collapse and Lawrence Stroll jumped in and formed Racing Point. Did he deserve or properly qualify for prize monies in the first and second season? G. Haas didn’t think so. Not sure how it was settled, but it has all gone quiet.
          I understand the logic, but I hate it for preventing us having 12 or 14 teams on track. All those racers fighting through the lower formulas are missing out on the added opportunities to get into an F1 car, even if it is just to be fighting to get under 107%.

      4. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk is there any evidence that Andretti would have formed his own team without that fee requirement?

        Buying into an existing team would mean he’d have everything that he needed ready to go – existing infrastructure, which is reportedly fairly decent at Sauber, a network of suppliers already set up for the team, including an active engine supply deal, a workforce of experienced staff and so on. Whilst you could build that up yourself, would Andretti have been prepared to put that capital investment in if there was the option of buying another team, even if the entry fee was far lower?

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          28th October 2021, 14:41

          Fair point, but I’d like to think if Haas could do it, Andretti certainly could.

          1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk whilst Haas have entered, they’ve entered with a very different operating model that relies on significant outsourcing of development work to third parties, particularly Dallara. From what has been said about the deal, it seems that Andretti and his financial backers considered buying an existing team to be a simpler and lower risk deal that would allow them to enter sooner.

            When you look at the approach that Andretti has taken in other motorsport series, there have been several other instances where the preferred option has been to buy a stake in an existing team. The IndyCar team that bears the Andretti name started out as Forsythe Green Racing, being founded by Barry Green and Gerald Forsythe, with the Andretti’s buying the team at a later date. Similarly, their investment in the Australian Supercar Championship was by buying a minority stake in Tom Walkinshaw’s team there, rather than starting a team from scratch.

            With that in mind, whilst the option of starting their own team might have been considered, buying into another team probably would have been their preferred option from the start.

            1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              29th October 2021, 8:17

              Yep. All this we know.

              And the $200m entry fee is still very relevant, because it limits the number of teams in total. Teams that the owners might be persuaded to see for instance.

              There’s no getting around the fact there are not really enough teams in F1. More needs to be done by the FIA and Liberty.

      5. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk I think you may misunderstand the financial requirements needed to start a new team and annual operating cash needed to run a typical F1 team; something Haas is not.
        While $200m is a lot, its only a fraction of the cash that is needed to start a spanking new F1 team. To create a team like Sauber and other typical mid-level F1 teams you need about $1.2+ Billion, plus about three to four years of time needed building facilities and IP before making it to the first race and then needing about two seasons of spare cash to cover operating running cost before you start receiving prize money. This is exactly why Finn Rausing was asking for proof of cash to run the team because it’s apparent Andretti does not have primary sponsor signed up or a letter of commitment to help cover running costs.

        What Haas did, is not something that can be done anymore and for good reason, Haas is more like F2 team than a F1 team. Sadly, I think the Haas F1 team is a bit of a dead man walking the way it’s been structured. Because of this many companies wanting to advertise in F1 stay clear of Haas. Look back at who’s sponsored them.
        It’s a team that is unable to do well over the course of a season, they have no facilities to create updates and build anything, they’re supplied chassis’s by a different company and then Ferrari supplies them parts and PU’s, Haas can only get items when there available to them.
        I seriously doubt Andretti can not remotely do what Haas has done and been doing, Andretti does not have a personal cash stream that he can choose to use to cover monies lost that are not coming in from sponsorships and prize money. Gene Haas owns a successful billion dollar manufacturing business that Gene can personally bleed to keep his F1 team alive (I’m betting his accountants are not impressed). Andretti does not have this. Without the monies that Sauber was asking, Andretti could easily be another HRT team and thats something F1 definitely does not want.

        The monies that the Sauber owners were asking was very reasonable.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          29th October 2021, 8:25

          Nope you are wrong, I do understand the colossal financial requirements for starting a team in F1 and this in turn effectively making F1 a closed shop that you can only buy into.

          I also understand that the cost of F1 has to be reduced for all kinds of reasons. The money Sauber were asking might seem reasonable in F1 terms, but F1 terms are frankly ridiculous from a sporting perspective.

          If you can justify pure racing teams like Andretti not being able to enter F1 then something is wrong and we all know it.

    3. Good, if they were just coming in to syphon off F1 revenues, finding the next bidder, and couldn’t be bothered to make clear their intent to keep the team an ongoing concern for a measly 5 years.

      1. Yeah that’s what the Andrettis are known for…

    4. Unsurprising as I had already got this idea on race day.
      This development automatically means no Herta if he ever were a realistic option in the first place, considering his super license situation.
      Piastri has never really been a realistic option for Alfa Romeo, while De Vries dropped from speculation quite quickly, & Ilott moves to IndyCar, which presumably means neither was he.
      Gio’s staying chance has also seemed scarce, so Besides Zhou, the only viable option is essentially Shwartzman with Pouchaire, the very last resort.
      Of course, Pouchaire in 2023 is merely a possibility rather than given.
      Team Hinwill has never really promoted any academy driver, so not a must either.
      Still, understandable why Vasseur would be unwilling towards longer than a single-year deal, just to keep the Pouchaire option open.
      This applies to whoever ultimately becomes Bottas’ teammate, not only Zhou.
      Anyway, Zhou should accept a one-year deal as otherwise, he’d risk not becoming an F1 driver at all as his situation for 2023 would be worse if he isn’t racing in F1 next season than if he does.
      I reckon he might be willing, but another story if his sponsors aren’t.

    5. Is Andretti a billioniare? If not then this purcase makes no sense.
      F1 is a different kind of animal that eats the unwary.
      F1 requires massive amounts of fundind, patience and sacrifice.
      If you do not have the financial backing to stay in F1 for 3 years without earning any revenue, then don’t bother.

      1. I’d think it would be easier for Andretti to tap sponsorship from US based companies than most team (I wonder why Haas is bad at this)

        Then again with future cost cap incoming, suddenly owning a team become much more interesting and potentially profitable than before

        1. Gene Haas is a felon who spent time in prison for tax evasion, I assume the f1 team is another questionable write off.

    6. If Zhou gets a seat, it will be more evidence that the best track drivers are not in F1. Even Pourchaire’s performance in F2 has been underwhelming.

    7. If Ecclestone is right and Switzerland is not the place for the English-speaking, it could be a blessing in disguise.

      What about Haas? Already an American team.

    8. Maybe they’ll buy Haas after they finish P10 in the WCC next year. F1 needs to axe this non-dilution stuff (edit) and make it up with award money distribution or something. F1 badly needs another team or two and it would do wonders for the investors’ goals.

      1. I doubt it. Mazepin’s money is there for his son to have fun on Sundays.

    9. Guanyu Zhou is still considered favourite for the second drive at the team alongside Valtteri Bottas.

      Even more reason F1 needs more teams. If drivers with limited talent or at least in this case not quite top talent are getting seats, additional seats should be available for those who should reach F1 on merit alone.

      1. There are mechanisms to add more teams to the sport.

        It’s just that neither Liberty nor the existing teams feel particularly keen on finding themselves on the wrong end of a get-rich-quick scheme.

    10. I’m glad this didn’t happen, if only because Sauber is too historic of a name. Andretti should really make a go for Haas.

    11. I was hoping that Michael should start up a development program and start funding the best US drivers to race in European Open-Wheel.

      Michael should start asking Gainbridge to fund 2021 Euro Formula Open series champion Cameron Das towards a Formula 2 ride.

      I wonder what is preventing Michael Andretti from buying teams who are in administration such as Manor, Hispania, Caterham, and Super Aguri. Even the failed USF1 project. We wonder how much will it cost to start a team from scratch?

      1. Anything that those teams had has been sold off years ago to pay off the debts they owed their suppliers, whilst all of those teams forfeited their entry rights when they went bankrupt and could no longer pay their entry fee.

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