Michael Andretti

Why Andretti isn’t giving up yet on its attempt to enter F1

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One year ago last Friday, the FIA formally invited applications from teams hoping to enter the Formula 1 world championship in 2025 or 2026.

“For the avoidance of doubt,” the FIA’s announcement read, “no new applicant has an automatic right of entry to the championship and the maximum number of teams competing in the championship up to and including the 2025 season is capped at 12. Existing F1 teams will be given priority over new applicants.

“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.”

Two key details stand out here. First, the FIA made it clear the final decision on who would get to join in would be made by two parties – itself and F1’s commercial rights holder, Formula One Management, run by Liberty Media.

Second, the maximum number of teams – 12 – is capped up until the end of 2025. This is the expiry date for the current Concorde Agreement, the three-way deal between FOM, the FIA and 10 current teams.

Of the four applications given serious scrutiny by the FIA, only one was approved. In October last year FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem declared: “Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfils the selection criteria that was set in all material respects.”

But having received approval from the sport’s governing body, Andretti now needed the nod from the commercial rights holder.

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“As part of the agreed process of the expressions of interest protocol, the FIA findings on Andretti Formula Racing LLC’s submission will now be passed to Formula One Management (FOM) for commercial discussions,” the FIA statement concluded.

Stefano Domenicali, 2023
FOM have not definitively shut the door on Andretti
Shortly before the one-year anniversary of the FIA opening applications, Andretti’s hopes appeared to be dashed. FOM issued a 1,400-word summary of its “commercial assessment process” which would not have made for pleasant reading at the Andretti base in Indianapolis.

After asserting Andretti would not be a competitive entrant, that they were not sufficiently well known among fans and would not improve the commercial rights holders’ financial results, FOM concluded: “The applicant’s application to participate in the championship should not be successful.”

Significantly, nowhere in the statement did FOM state definitively that Andretti’s application had been rejected. Its cautiously-worded conclusion did not fully close the door on Andretti.

So while the FIA has given Andretti a green light, FOM haven’t shown them red yet. This is no doubt why both statements issued by Andretti in responses to FOM’s concluded: “Our work continues at pace.”

The FIA also indicated it considers the matter far from settled. “We are engaging in dialogue to determine next steps,” is all it has said so far in reaction to FOM’s lengthy criticism of the application it endorsed.

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Several points of friction have developed between the sport’s commercial rights holder and the governing body of motor sport since Mohammed Ben Sulayem took charge of the latter at the end of 2021. Most recently, two months ago FOM indicated its frustration the FIA did not give it prior warning of a public statement revealing its investigation into an alleged exchange of confidential information between an F1 team principal and a member of FOM personnel. The FIA’s investigation into the pair – later identified as Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and F1 Academy director Susie Wolff, who are husband and wife – was swiftly dropped.

But at a time when F1 is enjoying rising popularity, both stand to benefit from putting their differences aside, and they have shown they can do this. For example, the FIA initially opposed FOM’s plan to increase the number of sprint races to six for 2023, but an agreement was eventually reached.

FOM and the FIA have disagreed plenty in recent years
On that occasion the FIA resisted an FOM initiative on cost grounds. This time the roles are reversed. Will a compromise be found and, if so, what might it look like?

A significant part of FOM’s dismissal of Andretti’s application focused on the difficulty of entering a team in 2025, the final year of the current technical regulations, before they are drastically overhauled the following season. “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,” FOM noted, adding later: “The fact that the applicant proposes to do so gives us reason to question their understanding of the scope of the challenge involved.”

However in its latest response Andretti subsequently pointed out the reason it targeted 2025 as the earliest season it might enter was because that was the point specified by the FIA in its invitation to applicants. A 2026 entry was its preference, it added.

“When Andretti Cadillac entered the FIA expression of interest process almost a year ago, the preferred first year of participation was indicated as 2025,” said the team. “The FIA approved our application, with no specific limitation on whether the entry was for 2025 or 2026.

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“Andretti Cadillac has been operating with 2026 as the year of entry for many months now. The technicality of 2025 still being part of the application is a result of the length of this process.”

Michael Andretti, Miami, 2023
Andretti’s preparations have not stopped despite the news
The significance of a 2026 entry instead of 2025 is that would fall under the first year of the next Concorde Agreement, rather than the final year of the current one. There has been speculation FOM and the teams could use the opportunity of a new Concorde Agreement to cut the maximum number of teams from 12 to 10, locking Andretti out. Does it intend to go that for, or does its response to Andretti indicate it is merely driving a hard bargain?

In its response, FOM stated adding an 11th team “would place an operational burden on race promoters, would subject some of them to significant costs, and would reduce the technical, operational and commercial spaces of the other competitors.” However F1 last had 11 teams just eight years ago and its most confined pit and paddock at that time – Monaco’s – has not got any smaller since then. FOM’s objection to adding an 11th team appears to be more commercial than practical.

Under the present Concorde Agreement, new teams are required to stump up a $200 million ‘anti-dilution’ fee to help compensate the existing team for the loss of prize money resulting from the addition of a new competitor. Soon after the FIA opened its application process last year discussions around increasing that feed began.

This may point towards a way FIA, FOM, Andretti and the 10 existing teams can all get enough of what they want: Andretti enter in 2026, but pay a new, higher fee – and the present cap on teams is cut from 12 to a convenient 11.

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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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47 comments on “Why Andretti isn’t giving up yet on its attempt to enter F1”

  1. I’m sensing an effective repeat of the situation in 2010…

    1. Really? In 2010, a number of teams were invited to join F1, having been promised that under new cost cap regulations, they’d be able to compete for as little as $50 million, and be competitive. Unfortunately, Ferrari and a few others threatened a breakaway championship if the little guys were given the necessary boosts to compete at that level for such a small amount of money, and the regulations never materialized.

      Andretti has already built facilities, and has a test car undergoing wind tunnel work, and has agreed to pay a $200 million entry fee to help offset the loss in revenue that the other teams are wetting themselves over.

      There’s absolutely no comparison.

      1. There’s very much a comparison.
        You even explained it yourself… Andretti, as with all the other teams in 2010, are far enough into their F1 program now for substantially increased financial pressures to be a massive game-changer, both in the short term and the long term.

        In 2010 it was the deletion of the budget cap they were promised. This time, it’s the stalling while a new Concorde Agreement is drawn up – and I bet it won’t make any mention of numbers as small as $200m.

  2. Andretti Cadillac has been operating with 2026 as the year of entry for many months now

    Given that Cadillac/GM have no intention of attempting to rush through a PU before 2028, how do Andretti / Cadillac propose to power the car?
    The big dangling question in all this still remains, and grows bigger every time anyone looks for more detail.

    I think Andretti need to walk the path indicated by FOM and work to get a GM PU and Andretti chassis together for 2028.

    1. Given that Cadillac/GM have no intention of attempting to rush through a PU before 2028, how do Andretti / Cadillac propose to power the car?

      Renault, of course. It’s really not a question.
      Even if Renault have changed their mind on supplying it willingly to Andretti, they’ve agreed to supply it to any F1 team that needs one anyway.
      Of course, if they do supply it willingly, they’ll be in an advantageous position to get a good commercial deal from it. They want more data on it than they can get with just the two cars of their own, and they want money back from the development costs that they’d normally not get any return from, having no customers.

    2. how do Andretti / Cadillac propose to power the car?

      There is an agreed protocol for this; PU supplier with least clients to provide the PU if a team has no other agreement.

      1. That agreed protocol was put in place to save Red Bull when they fell out with Renault and no one wanted to sell them an engine.

        Never intended to allow a new team to enter without bothering to invest in an engine. Let alone not even bother to have a plan to obtain one.

        1. Never intended to allow a new team to enter

          I guess you’re making that up, but feel free to proof me wrong.

          1. https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/f1-rules-will-oblige-manufacturers-to-step-in-with-engines-in-2017-4989855/4989855/

            Had the rule been in place last year, Renault would have been obliged to give Red Bull power units regardless of their dispute as it was supplying the fewest teams bar returnee Honda

        2. Never intended to allow a new team to enter

          It wasn’t a consideration at all, at the time.
          New team or existing team is irrelevant – there has never been any mention of any differentiation in use of this rule since its introduction.

          FOM would certainly like people to believe that they never intended it to assist a new team in entering right now, though.

        3. If the rules state that Renault are obliged to supply, why do they need to plan? It’s cut and dry. Andretti will have an engine.

        4. Andretti actually had an agreement to run with Renault engines conditional on their bid being accepted by a certain date. Since the process took way longer than anticipated this has now lapsed. You can’t say there was no plan, and Renault has since stated they would be open to supply Andretti anyhow.

          1. Radoye, according to the public statements from Renault, what they had signed with the Andretti’s was a pre-contractual agreement.

            What that means is Renault came to an agreement with the Andretti’s that, if the bid by the Andretti’s was accepted by a certain date, they would then proceed to the next stage of negotiations to discuss the terms of a supply deal with the Andretti team. Strictly speaking, that did not create a legally binding requirement for Renault to supply engines to the Andretti team and Renault could still have ultimately chosen to walk away from the Andretti’s.

        5. Renault offered their engines.

        6. Doesn’t matter, Renault has openly said they’d be delighted to supply Andretti with an engine.

    3. Yup, exactly.

      I’d love to know what “work” is apparantly continuing at pace. Is it work on a chassis with a non-existant engine? How is it meant to be powered? Flinstones-style?

      If their team is partnered with GM I can’t see how their team proposes to enter without GM. This part of their proposal has never made sense and was rightly called out by FOM.

      GM are notorious for pulling out of markets and cancelling plans. Cadillac over Chevy doesn’t even make sense on its own. What high performance Cadillacs are there?

      1. If their team is partnered with GM I can’t see how their team proposes to enter without GM.

        You might want to have a look at AM, powered by Mercedes, yet having agreed a partnership with Honda.
        And that’s only the most recent example.

        1. 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

          That does not at all sound anything like AM’s situation. Dependent on a compulsory supply being the key words. AM is not at all dependent on a compulsory supply.

          1. Identical.
            If Mercedes decides to stop supplying AM (due to their contract with Honda) then the FIA procedure will step in.

          2. *roll eyes* a new manufacturer coming in with no engine supplier is “identical” to a team that has a solid deal with an engine supplier.

            What are you on about grumpy?

      2. What high performance Cadillacs are there?

        How high performance is an Alpine A110? What are Ford currently producing that is particularly high performance? Honda stopped making the NSX a couple of years ago and now only make city cars and SUV’s….
        What difference does it make anyway? Everyone who knows cars (motorsport enthusiasts certainly should) knows Cadillac is a GM brand, and GM do most definitely have a very long and rich history of continued participation and success in motorsports all around the world.

        Oh, and Cadillac have been doing quite a bit of winning in IMSA since 2017… Or is that not high performance enough?
        GM are clearly keen on growing the brand’s motorsports image.

        I’d love to know what “work” is apparantly continuing at pace. Is it work on a chassis with a non-existant engine?

        There’s a lot more to a race team than just the race cars. How they are made, where, who by, what with, design and simulation tools, supplier channels…. All these have lead times and planning to be done long before any cars or parts are produced.
        They can be looking at tub design and potential packaging options, geometry specs, CAD modelling using existing technical regs to verify their design and development processes, etc… Stuff all the teams are doing all the time.

        GM are notorious for pulling out of markets and cancelling plans.

        Which manufacturer isn’t? Especially in regard to motorsport… How about Porsche pulling out of F1 before they entered – again?
        GM have recently undergone quite a significant transformation to pull out of all RHD markets as it was no longer profitable for them, being such a small percentage of total global sales. Hardly something to base your opinion of their motorsports participation on, though. Manufacturers only use motorsports as their marketing vehicle, anyway. When that no longer makes them a profit, they’ll rightfully pull out of that too.

      3. Uh… LMH? Daytona?

        They just came second in the Rolex Daytona 24.

    4. @SteveP They had worked out an agreement with Renault to supply them an engine. And as of a month ago Renault were saying they were still willing to do so.

      They are especially keen to supply an additional team in 2026 in order to get more data for the revised engine regulations.

      1. Thanks for chipping in there. Yeah, I would think that Renault would be happy to have a customer that can help them get more mileage on those engines to get them tuned in better. It’s for 3 years and would give Renault some extra funding and especially help Renault in the early years of the new engine in 26-27 when there is the most to learn.

        Saward mentioned that many in F1 feel the whole bid is an attempt at getting into F1 by some moneymen and then sell off the venue soon. I guess that points to the core of the issues why teams aren’t too hot on letting them in. Money rules.

        1. If that was their plan, it would be clearly stated in their application, and FOM wouldn’t have raised it as an issue. It would also be a tick in the column for improving competitiveness in F1.

          They should have been able to say “we will be powered by Renault” but instead all of Renault’s statements have been about if Andretti get an approval we will then discuss (likely knowing full well they wouldn’t.)

          It all speaks to Andretti cheaping out. They could have paid the asking price to partner with a PU for a few years and none of this would be an issue.

          1. They did say they’d be powered by Renault, and Renault agreed IN WRITING.

            But FOM dragged their heels so long the agreement expired.

            Renault has said they’re open to renewing it.

            …. You’re actually Stefano, aren’t you?

    5. FOM. Do. Not. want. Andretti. Period. Not in 2028 or 2128.

      1. I think by either of those years, they’ll start to be getting desperate and dropping their defences a bit.
        F1’s growth is slowing, and antics such as this don’t help.

    6. You seem like the type who thinks they watched an actual Alfa Romeo racing in F1 for the last few seasons.
      You probably believe that a watch company manufactured engines for RBR for a season too.

  3. This may point towards a way FIA, FOM, Andretti and the 10 existing teams can all get enough of what they want: Andretti enter in 2026, but pay a new, higher fee – and the present cap on teams is cut from 12 to a convenient 11.

    This. Andretti probably know this, and have budgeted for a higher entry fee, offset by the new post-2026 Concorde agreement with the teams taking a bigger % of commercial revenues from F1.

    1. Mario said they have cash waiting.

  4. I think that FOM has just made any form of Dilution Payment redundant as they have effectively closed the door on any new teams joining the F1 grid ever. What they have done though, is make F1 a closed shop of 10 teams, which will make the value of each team increase dramatically. The only way any manufacture or Billionair must do is to purchase an existing team at artificially inflated values. It just smells of inhouse deals being done. Maybe I am wrong. I also question what hoops does a buyer of an existing team have to jump through? If Audi bought Sauber now, what is the criteria they have to meet? Do they also have to be competitive as soon as they come in or will the money just be accepted unconditionally?

    1. This may point towards a way FIA, FOM, Andretti and the 10 existing teams can all get enough of what they want: Andretti enter in 2026, but pay a new, higher fee – and the present cap on teams is cut from 12 to a convenient 11.

      This seems to indicate otherwise. 11 seems like the perfect number, especially with Andretti, since it’ll bring needed seats for drivers from the junior categories, expand exposure in the USA and still be a small number of teams which will keep the essentially high value of each franchise guaranteed. I also don’t think F1 really has a choice if Andretti continue to press and prove their funding. I think they’d lose an anti-trust case in the EU courts.

  5. The key point is there should be 12 teams under the current agreement.
    So ‘dilution’ is a red herring.
    The reality is 10 teams are making a heap more money because it should be split between 12 teams, not 10, and they are just being greedy.
    The whole Williams and other teams arguments totally lacks credibility when they should be earning potentially less under the current agreement with 12 teams on board – and they already agreed on 12 teams.

    1. The key point is there should be 12 teams under the current agreement.

      “Can be”, is not “should be”, nor is it “must be”. (If you ever read a legal document, the differences are extremely important)

      So ‘dilution’ is a red herring.

      Very much a red herring, which is why FOM have issued a statement, that at most extreme interpretation, can barely be taken to reference that aspect at all. (7.d. if you’re looking)
      The main question is what PU they will use. They say GM and GM say the engine will be ready for 2028, and FOM suggest Andretti time their entry for 2028.
      Andretti have already accepted that they could not have a car ready for 2025, and 2026 puts them in new regs why jump in before 2028 unless they intend to do a Torro Rosso/Alpha Tauri and test GM prototypes to destruction for 48 races.

      1. The main question is what PU they will use. They say GM and GM say the engine will be ready for 2028, and FOM suggest Andretti time their entry for 2028.

        That shouldn’t be a factor at all!! Even if GM postpones their entry by 2029-30 or they abandon their plans, it should have no bearing on whether Andretti is capable of joining as a racing team in 2026 with an engine supplied by the other brands.
        They had a preliminary deal to get engines from Reanult, Renault still said they don’t mind keeping their end of the deal, as it would help them get more data… and even if they went back on that deal, there is a rule that Andretti will get an engine from the manufacturer with the least customers – a rule established after Red Bull’s tantrums!!

        And even if they want to take 2-3 years of testing prototypes, what’s wrong with that? Haas hasn’t built a car completely on their own since they joined in 2016. And they said that they wouldn’t back then and nobody minded!
        Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri/RB is team with no actual goal of winning anything, they are just a budget cap loophole / actual testing prototype of another team (so basically Red Bull is hoarding 2 spots on the grid)… and we’re debating on whether a true racing team, that is willing to jump through hoops just to get in and managed to convince a big PU name to join, will bring value to the sport?

        1. That shouldn’t be a factor at all!!

          Andretti made it a factor. They waved a big Cadillac flag to ‘prove’ what a good bid they had – except they don’t have a Cadillac engine until 2028.
          Note that FOM are pointing toward 2028 as being a different case:

          20. We would look differently on an application for the entry of a team into the 2028 Championship with a GM power unit, either as a GM works team or as a GM customer team designing all allowable components in-house. In this case there would be additional factors to consider in respect of the value that the Applicant would bring to the Championship, in particular in respect of bringing a prestigious new OEM to the sport as a PU supplier.

          See? Actually having GM onboard, rather than just an advert, makes a difference.

          And even if they want to take 2-3 years of testing prototypes, what’s wrong with that?

          TR/AT already did that, as I noted. If one can do it, all can do it.

          Aim for 2028, or show that GM will provide prototype PU before that and ask if that is an allowed factor for an entry.

          1. Yeah, obviously FOM wants GM waaaay more than they want Andretti, but the criteria that was set by FIA, were only about racing teams, no engine, no big brand customers, only pure racing teams!

            Andretti met those criteria, they provided a plan for joining in 2025-26 with a customer engine as per the rules and they even coinviced GM to join in 2028 – they didn’t have to, but they obviously know how the game was played and the GM card was just an extra incentive to convince FOM.

            The fact that FOM will bend over backwards for big brands and engine suppliers, doesn’t change the fact that Andretti met all of the criteria FIA set for a RACING TEAM and then FOM arbitrarily just said ‘no’, just because the teams don’t want to lose any money, unless they manage to convice a big name to join (like Audi, Porsche, GM, etc).

    2. Why not 13 teams?

    3. While I’d like to see Andretti on the grid, I don’t think Williams’ and the other smaller teams’ arguments about revenue are a red herring. They’re only two years into this era of solid income vs expenditure. Even now, most of the teams are operating at a modest loss instead of a huge one year-after-year like it used to be. Their net value if sold is really the place where things have really changed. So, I’ll be happy to see an F1 where financial stability will allow almost all the teams to be competing with fairly resources (the cap-x is the place where more progress needs to be made).

  6. I suspect the real challenge here is giving the existing committed manufacturers enough time to stack the marketing and PR deck in their favor. An Andretti team backed by GM is going to consume a lot of oxygen in a room full of English-speaking media. Of course that diminishes with time if they aren’t competitive, but I don’t expect them to be another Haas, lingering at the back and fighting for a point or two on a good day. While Ferrari is secure in their retail market position, in terms of marketing and sales, Mercedes and Audi in particular rely heavily upon the US market for volume sales. The Andretti-GM entry is probably good for Red Bull and their global marketing efforts.

    1. That’s an interesting theory. I wonder if there’s anything to it. There probably is an element to it. The room is already going to get a lot more crowded, don’t forget Ford.

      F1 is probably happy to say we’re full.

  7. The thing is, the reasoning doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. And Andretti would have legitimate success in forcing their way in with a step to the (I’m assuming UK-based) courts. The FOM will want to avoid such a move, as the Concorde agreement might not hold up in court at all. So all of this is likely just a bit of posturing.

    As always, it’s about money, so there’s going to be a point where Andretti and the FIA will have satisfied the monetary request the FOM and teams have in mind here and then Andretti will be in. But part of me hopes we do finally get that lawsuit, just to see the FOM fall on flat on its face with that ridiculous statement they send out.

  8. All the questions were answered, they all knew what the financials were when they extended an invitation for more teams to join F1. This is all crapola and if the right team comes along, they will be allowed to join without an engine or any of the other things. The bottom teams are afraid Andretti will show up and show them up.

  9. Andretti have already said they would pay $600m to keep the teams happy.

  10. Mark in Florida
    5th February 2024, 4:50

    This will get settled in the US courts. Andretti will sue the F1 mafia and win. They met the criteria and were willing to even go through additional hoops if necessary. F1 has no intention of allowing Andretti or anyone else in right now. They are like pigs in a hog trough hogging up everything they can. Their blatant greed is sickening.
    I hope Andretti is able to rub the slop back into F1s face.

    1. Mark in Florida, I think that you are being rather optimistic in thinking that, as nobody seems to have been able to construct a logical legal argument that would actually stand up in court (emotional arguments like yours will not impress a legal team).

      Equally, the Andretti’s currently already have legal problems of their own over their original plans to build a new factory – another expensive lawsuit is probably something that Michael Andretti really isn’t going to want right now.

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