F1 embraces the return of Ford – but is its major US rival welcome too?

2023 F1 season

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Michael Andretti’s hopes of gaining a place on the Formula 1 grid appear to have been boosted twice in the past 24 hours.

First the FIA formally opened its process for new teams to apply to compete in the world championship. But by no means does this guarantee an application from Andretti will be accepted.

Indeed, following pushback from F1 and most of the existing teams who don’t want to share the sport’s spoils with new entrants, the FIA made it clear that even if it approves a bid the commercial arm of the sport can block it. “Existing F1 teams will be given priority over new applicants,” it stated. “In the event that no applicant is considered suitable by the FIA and/or by the F1 commercial rights holder, no new F1 team(s) will be selected.”

But at least the wheels are turning. Merely getting the FIA to consider its case will be an achievement for Andretti, as new entries are only admitted to F1 periodically. The earliest a new team might arrive on the grid is 2025, almost a full decade after the last entrant, Haas.

Andretti wants to bring Cadillac into F1
Nonetheless it’s clear Andretti’s hopes of entering F1 rest not only on convincing the FIA they are serious about competing for the long-term, and not merely selling up in a few years’ time when the growing popularity of F1 has increased the value of their investment. They also need political support from F1 and its teams.

This was not entirely absent to begin with. As Andretti does not propose to build its own engines it will need to source one from an existing manufacturer. It has previously named Renault as its preferred supplier, and they are believed to be favourable to Andretti’s cause. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has also voiced support for Andretti’s efforts to enter F1.

But most important is the position of F1 itself. Up until now, they have offered little encouragement. “I don’t see honestly the need of that increase [in the number of teams] to have a big benefit for the sport of Formula 1,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali in August last year.

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Today Domenicali appeared alongside Ford president and CEO Jim Farley on Fox News as the manufacturer announced its plans to return to F1, a series it left almost two decades ago.

Analysis: Why does an American car-making giant suddenly want to be in Formula 1?
“It’s great news for us. It’s great news for Ford. It’s great news for America,” said Domenicali. “Ford has been part of Formula 1 since 1967 until 2004. There have been many championship wins.

“And that’s the right place to be for the future together in motorsport in an entertainment platform that is growing in the US. We are really happy of course. It’s a great moment for all of us.”

With Ford heading back to the grid in 2026, the chances of Andretti joining them can only have been improved by their announcement last month that they had secured the backing of another major US car maker, General Motors, through its Cadillac brand.

That was an attractive proposition to begin with. But following today’s announcement F1 has the possibility of two massive American rivals going up against each other.

Two major manufacturers who are competing fiercely for buyers’ loyalty in the US market – which F1 is investing so much energy in exploiting, adding a third race this year – will have obvious appeal.

By 2026 the major rules changes introduced by Liberty Media to improve the sport’s financial situation and competitiveness will have matured considerably. It will be the fifth year of the revised aerodynamic regulations which were introduced in 2022 (having been delayed by 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic) and the sixth season since the budget cap was brought in.

The rules appear to be having the desired effect. F1’s popularity is growing and the financial health of its teams has improved.

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Former F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn previously argued the series should only consider expanding its grid once those rules were established.

“We have a surprising number of teams that have shown an interest,” he said in 2019, just three years after Liberty Media’s takeover. “But what we’ve said to those teams is let’s get these rules introduced, let’s stabilise the situation, let’s get everything working properly before we seek more teams. I think with the 10 teams we have, 10 healthy teams in Formula 1 is actually enough.

“If we do get any extra teams they’ve got to really add to the show. We must learn from history. Some of these small teams came and went and didn’t really add to Formula 1. So I think we’ve got to stabilise what we’re introducing in ’21 and then look at where there’s an opportunity for more teams.”

F1 is on course to be at that point by 2026. But a decision on whether to admit new teams in time for that must be made soon if they are to have a chance of being competitive when they arrive.

The FIA’s decision to go ahead with admitting new teams will prompt F1 to answer the question. If it doesn’t want to let in a team which already competes in a range of other series, carries the name of a world champion, is building a massive new factory and bringing one major US car manufacturer with it to take on another, what more does F1 want?

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2023 F1 season

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Author information

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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26 comments on “F1 embraces the return of Ford – but is its major US rival welcome too?”

  1. Not if they’re only bringing a sticker for their Renault PU.

    And now that the 2026 PU manufacturers entry list is updated, it’s confirmed that’s all that sticker company ever intended to do. (Probably all Mr Andretti and his investors believed they needed, misunderstanding fundamentally – and not for the first time – the signals they were given from Liberty.)

    1. So is Ford not a sticker for rbpt? And what difference does it make to viewers if its a sticker or not? Perhaps a Cadillac sticker on an andretti car will be best for the long term. Let the racers do the racing and let the corporates sell cars.

      1. It’s not if they are partners in RBFPT, then it’s a sticker on someone else’s car running their own PU.

        Which that sticker company could have shown interest to aspire to in entering as a PU manufacturer for 2026, too. But they apparently did not. One might suspect that that sticker arrangement was the result of Mr Andretti and his investors stopping listening before the people from Liberty / F1 actually finished their sentences.

        1. Since Cadillac is partnering with Andretti, who are not an actual F1 team at the moment, you wouldn’t see Cadillac on the official 2026 power unit list – even if they were building their own instead of badging. What business would build an engine without a firm team to use it?

          1. Honda, apparently.

          2. Who says Honda don’t have a team to partner with?

          3. Do you want to announce something on their behalf?

        2. Proesterchen (@proesterchen) You really have no clue what is going on between Ford and Red Bull do you?
          You should get better acquainted with the facts before you make your usual rubbish comments.

          1. I am privy to the same set of public information everyone else has. If you want to share additional information feel free to share it with us.

    2. You are so wide of the mark in your comment. Where do you get this rubbish from?

      1. I have found that calling someone or someone’s comments names is not the most efficient way of purveying information.

    3. Listen to yourself… Mr Andretti from that sticker company…
      How many years have various teams run supposed “Tag Heuer” engines?
      How about the long list of other re-branded engines from F1’s history – including Petronas, European, Acer, Playlife, Fondmetal, Supertec, Sauber and Subaru (for example….).

      1. Mr Andretti from that sticker company

        Would you mind not putting words in my mouth?


        I don’t think Sauber ever self-branded a Formula 1 engine, did they?

        1. 1993 – Sauber’s official entry specified Sauber badged engines (which were re-branded Ilmor’s).
          Engine covers denoted “Concept by Mercedes-Benz.”

          That’s 3 brands on the one car….

          1. Ah, thanks, I didn’t realize they put anything in the engine supplier column that year. 👍

  2. Nice, glad to see F1 throwing their full weight behind Ford rather than GM in the U.S. Very salty about what happened with GM’s Holden in Australia. They’ve not shown any shortage of inclination to say one thing incredibly strongly while planning to do the exact opposite behind closed doors (recent work from home vs return to office for employees show they are more than happy to lie with a bold-face to even their most important stake-holders). If I was going to bet on one of the two it would be Ford also.

    GM will definitely pump and dump the second it no longer serves their interests if they re-join F1 while telling everyone exactly what they want to hear.

    1. What makes you think that GM and Ford are fundamentally any different?
      As for local Australian industry – they were exactly as bad as each other in every way, and still are.

  3. What happened to the FIA’s “F1 belongs to us!” attitude and comments? I guess when they need someone to share the blame, the commercial rights holder is important again.

    1. Why would the FIA get involved in this particular thing? This is a marketing event.

  4. I genuinely hope Andretti make it to the grid in 2026. They already have the infrastructure going in place and I think, along with McLaren, they can help raise the profile of INDYCAR as a fully recognized and legitimate feeder series for F1 talent. It is a joke that Logan Sargeant has more super license points than Coltan Herta just because F2 is an F1 support series. I get keeping spoiled rich pay drivers out of F1 but INDYCAR is extremely competitive and loaded with talent, young and old. Andretti isn’t going to be like the joke “B” teams that came into the sport in 2010. Teams stating that adding a solid new team won’t add to the sport and dismissing it solely on the basis of diluted prize money speaks to the fact that they know Andretti will be a threat to take some of that money. As far as an engine, I think they need to go with an existing manufacturer that has a base in the sport, rebranded or not. Running a from-scratch Cadillac would be a huge mistake. If Honda is without a team in 2026 than Andretti would be a natural partner, especially with their long partnership and success in INDYCAR.

    1. Justin (@vivagilles27) I agree with what you have said in your post. There is room on the grid for 13 teams and personally as a fan I would like to see 26 cars in every race. If the problem for the teams is prize money then I am sure that a compromise can be reached. Prize money only for the top 10 teams maybe. Liberty should have divided the prize money by 13 in the first place and not just by the number of teams currently on the grid. Very short term thinking on their part I think.

      1. Liberty should have divided the prize money by 13 in the first place and not just by the number of teams currently on the grid. Very short term thinking on their part I think.

        It was – but then it was their bargaining tool.
        To get what they wanted (in terms of overall commercial growth) they had to sacrifice any chance of expanding the grid.
        It was the only way to score enough points (so to speak) with the existing teams.

    2. Cadillac hadn’t committed to an engine program in the foreseeable future, as the team have an arrangement in place with Renault.
      But everything else is spot on.

    3. Personally I’m hoping some of the other potential teams come in – but not Andretti.

      1. Something particularly wrong with Andretti?

  5. As an American, I can say that they certainly should. There is little that will make the American audience grow quicker than a rivalry.

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