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Formula 1

10 personnel new F1 teams should be recruiting

by Josh Suttill
12 min read

The next piece in Andretti and Cadillac’s Formula 1 bid puzzle is likely to be the announcement of the project’s technical director, while Audi has already made a very big move for its 2026 F1 entry by grabbing McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.

With potential new entrants on the horizon and F1 experience at a premium, paddock personnel either between jobs or looking for new opportunities are likely to get some calls.

Here are our writers’ suggestions for some management and technical figures Andretti – and other mid-2020s F1 aspirants – should be head-hunting.


Gary Anderson

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Day Abu Dhabi, Uae

If Michael Andretti is to put together a competitive team from day one, he will need all the help he can get. There is no substitute for experience, but you need the correct experience.

If Andretti Global wants to send out the message that it’s serious about its entry into F1, it needs a leader who has recent experience in all areas. So for me, there is only one choice – Mattia Binotto.

Love him or hate him, he is an all-rounder who understands how an F1 team has to function. From the design of the car and over time the power unit to the team structure, he has had a hand in it all and understands the order the building blocks of any team need to be placed in.

There are others out there like Martin Budkowski or Cyril Abiteboul (though he’s now committed to Hyundai, whose potential F1 interest isn’t confirmed yet), both ex-Renault, but the reality is that none of these other options have anything like the widespread experience, success or pressure that Binotto has had to live with.

As I said from the moment he was promoted to team principal as well as initially having technical oversight at Ferrari, whoever thought that one person could do it all is the person responsible for the shortcomings beginning.

On top of that, while he was team principal at Ferrari he will have understood how the cut-throat world of F1 works. It wasn’t christened the ‘Piranha Club’ for no reason. To be honest, that is probably his main asset. We keep saying that F1 is like no other industry and this is why.

When you get a team principals’ meeting, it’s important to keep your friends close to you and your enemies even closer. The problem is, you never know who your enemy is until you feel the point of the knife between your shoulder blades. Binotto has gone through all of that, so will be much better prepared to deal with it when it happens.

In the early days, someone like him would be invaluable. Yes, he has made many mistakes but then again haven’t we all? The thing is, he will have learned from them and I’m pretty sure he would relish the chance to show Ferrari it has made a big mistake in replacing him.


Edd Straw

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, Russia

Hembery headed up Pirelli’s F1 operation from its return in the 2011 season before moving on to head up Pirelli LatAm in 2017. He’s since left the tyre firm, but is a shrewd operator who understands the way the F1 world works and knows the key people. That’s a skillset Andretti – or any newcomer – would clearly benefit from.

Regardless of how strong the Andretti bid is, it’s clear that the way the organisation has gone about making its case for a place on the grid has rubbed too many people up the wrong way. An experienced, politically-savvy and well-connected individual like Hembery could be hugely valuable on that score in a key leadership position.

These days, he splits his time between the USA and Europe, keeps in touch with some of the key players in F1 and would be interested in a return to the paddock.

His experience and CV make him ideally equipped for a leadership role in the team.


Ben Anderson

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Brazilian Grand Prix Race Day Sao Paulo, Brazil

To mould itself into a truly competitive proposition, Andretti Cadillac will need to cover all bases – and as Ferrari proved to its own detriment time and again in 2022, strategy is a vital component for any self-respecting Formula 1 team.

Red Bull’s Hannah Schmitz has proven herself a calm, effective and level-headed quick-thinker – earning praise from Max Verstappen for her “insane” levels of composure in the heat of the moment – so she is someone Andretti should naturally factor into its thinking.

To persuade her to give up a high-flying role at F1’s best team, why not propose a big-money move into a more expansive role with wider-ranging responsibilities, perhaps funnelling her towards leadership of Andretti’s simulation department while drawing on her obvious strategic expertise?

Weakening your opponents while bolstering your own capabilities should always be part of any F1 team’s competitive rationale.


Josh Suttill

Formula E Marrakesh E Prix 2022

The raw facts of Mercedes’ time in Formula E surely speak to one of the most successful stints ever in an international championship – four titles (two drivers’ and two teams’) in just three years before a shock exit from the series in 2022.

Mercedes left at the peak of its powers and handed over an operation that McLaren is already finding success with.

The man at the helm of both Mercedes’ all-conquering outfit and McLaren’s new venture into Formula E is Ian James.

He’s held a senior role in Mercedes’ F1 powerunit division at Brixworth, including during Mercedes’ dominant start to the hybrid era.

James has proved highly effective as a team leader in Formula E – something series rival Andretti should be aware of – especially in managing both past and present F1 drivers Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne and getting far more out of the latter than McLaren was ever able to in F1.

It’s a leftfield choice with a lack of recent F1 experience but considering he’s only in his mid-40s, poaching James for a senior role within Andretti-Cadillac could be a wise long-term move.


Scott Mitchell-Malm

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Abu Dhabi, Uae

Fernando Alonso has made no secret of his desire to keep racing in F1 for a while longer yet, but I think even the indefatigable Spaniard may struggle to command a race seat if or when an Andretti Cadillac team existed.

He’ll be 44 by the start of the 2026 season, so surely have a limited shelf life as a driver. But what about as a driver-turned-advisor?

Alonso has expressed a desire to have a non-racing role in F1 beyond his driving career, and while he has said it would be great if his Aston Martin move could transition into that he did not say ‘only at this team, because it’s in my contract’.

His passion for motorsport is key to his remarkable career endurance, and he will want to remain actively involved in F1 in the long-term.

Whether he has a racing role, a testing role or no driving role whatsoever, with his experience, intelligence and insatiable work ethic, he could be the ultimate hybrid of driver and manager.

His time at Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and now Aston Martin has included various eras for each team, he knows how F1 has evolved, he can identify which technologies and processes are outdated, he knows what works and what doesn’t.

It would also play to Alonso’s desire to be remembered as such a great all-rounder if he were to position himself as a key member of a brand new manufacturer project.

There’s a pre-existing link between Andretti and Alonso from his first Indianapolis 500 effort, and Alonso has talked positively about this project before, saying it would be great if Andretti could get an F1 entry.

So, whether it’s to drive the team or to help lead it in some way – or even both – Alonso should be high on Andretti’s shortlist of people to pitch the project to.


Ben Anderson

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Practice Day Silverstone, England

The FIA says the granting of any new F1 entries “would build on the positive acceptance of the FIA’s 2026 PU regulations among OEMs which has already attracted an entry from Audi”.

This suggests Andretti/Cadillac would need to consider facilitating its own engine programme in order to fully satisfy F1’s entry criteria for 2026 onwards.

With that in mind, and General Motors president Mark Reuss talking up GM’s facility to work on “combustion development” (among other things), Cadillac should surely pick the brains of an F1 hybrid engine expert in order to shortcut the process.

That’s where Andy Cowell comes in. He was pretty clear after leaving Mercedes in 2020 that he wanted a completely fresh challenge, so I’m not suggesting he move to Michigan full-time, but Ferrari has a decent history of success using Rory Byrne to consult on the chassis side of things at Maranello – so why not offer Cowell a similar role at Cadillac Racing?

Transforming Andretti’s ambitious plans into a proper success is going to require tapping into some of the best brains in the business, and no one comes with a better track record on the hybrid engine side of F1 than Cowell.


Edd Straw

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Dutch Grand Prix Qualifying Day Zandvoort, Netherlands

While he would likely primarily be interested in a team principal role, someone with Marcin Budkowski’s experience could also offer huge benefits in terms of liaison with Andretti’s partner team Alpine – provided it’s happy to work with him – and also the FIA technical department.

He’s only been on the F1 sidelines for a year, so comes with plenty of recent experience having been executive director at Alpine. That means he could play a key role in helping to structure a start-up technical team and also bring plenty of knowledge of the F1 employment market.

Andretti is an outsider coming into F1, so having plenty of senior personnel with knowledge of these areas will be essential in attempting to hit the ground running.


Jack Benyon

Sebastien Bourdais And Kyle Kirkwood Firestone Grand Prix Of St Petersburg By Chris Jones Referenceimagewithoutwatermark M51733

My suggestion is specific to Andretti and it’s not for the high-profile team boss or technical director areas, but merely an advisor to help get the team’s puzzle pieces into place. For that, there’d be no one better than Sebastien Bourdais.

The Frenchman has one of the most diverse CVs in motorsport, which helps tick boxes for what Andretti and Cadillac would need help with in establishing this team in the short term.

General Motors often loops in external suppliers and manufacturers to help with its work and thanks to two years and counting of driving a Cadillac sportscar, Bourdais has recent experience of how the marque operates in motorsport. He’d be an ideal person to bridge the gap, having spent time in its sim and working with its engineers before.

He’s also obviously a four-time Champ Car champion, so he knows the US racing world Andretti operates in well, even if he spent most of his driving career racing for Andretti’s rival teams.

He also has experience of F1 through his Toro Rosso stint, and while that was over a decade ago (and wasn’t particularly successful), Andretti’s bound to be bringing in hundreds of staff who have current F1 experience to work on this programme.

Learning how to unite its suppliers and cement steady foundations for this complicated programme to work might well be the key, and while Bourdais’ driving career isn’t and shouldn’t be over yet, he is 43 and certainly approaching the twilight of his elite racing days.

He’s also no-nonsense and never shy about giving his opinion. There’d be no fear of mixed messages when it came to what his opinion of what to do in any given situation might be.

Whether he wants to leave his St Petersburg home and family for long spells for what could be a hard and thankless task is another question altogether – not to mention he’s currently tied to Andretti’s US rival Chip Ganassi Racing – but if we’re talking people with the perfect experience to bridge a gap to tie these different organisations together, look no further than Bourdais.


Sam Smith

Formula E Berlin E Prix 2021

For me, there are two people, both with some past F1 experience, who would fit the bill for a new senior F1 role with a new team.

They might not be fashionable choices but they would be both short-term and long-term very effective.

Scott Elkins should have been Charlie Whiting’s successor in F1 back in 2019 but fate and politics intervened. Elkins has a breadth of experience in racing that takes in team management, technical direction, engineering and race directing in F1, Formula E, DTM and Extreme E.

That’s a unique skill set in motorsport I reckon. But more than that Elkins has garnered respect throughout paddocks for his open professionalism which has become a refreshing change to the sometimes stark unaccountability of other officials in the sport.

In my mind, Elkins would be an excellent team principal and perhaps the ultimate game-keeper turned poacher.

Equally, Andretti Autosport’s FE leader Roger Griffiths would be just as powerful in a senior role that encompasses technical and/or sporting, including at least a directorship role.

Two decades of management roles in motorsport have armed British born/American-based Griffiths with a smorgasbord of skills. But it’s perhaps his unflappable style that sets him apart for a role in F1 – where he has previously worked with Sauber and Minardi in the 1990s – in the future.

Along with Michael Andretti’s other trusted generals, such as JF Thormann, Rob Edwards and Doug Bresnahan, Griffiths has a multi-pronged armoury of sources and skills to work from. But his most relevant and proactive work is in what he has been doing in Formula E for the last eight years.

That is dealing with major OEMs in BMW and Porsche in a combined approach with an Andretti team which has won races in every Formula E season since 2018. Before that, he had held the position of technical director at Honda Performance Development overseeing the IndyCar and American Le Mans Series programmes. Those relationships and operating knowledge are rare in professional motorsport.

More evidence has come from the way Griffiths handled crises such as the second season debacle with Andretti’s first independent powertrain before having to revert to the Spark-Renault spec package.

Then there was the 2019 Marrakesh E-Prix when BMW I Andretti team-mates Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims conspired to hit each other while running 1-2. That literal car crash was not followed by an intra-team one and the takeaways from it inform Griffiths and the team he leads even today.

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