One of General Motors’ most senior figures reckons the Andretti Cadillac bid for a new Formula 1 entry will have surprised those who have seen the application.
Andretti Global has teamed up with General Motors to try to earn a spot on the F1 grid in 2025 after the FIA launched a process to evaluate potential new entries.
By entering under the Andretti Cadillac name and announcing it would be working closely with GM, the Michael Andretti-led project appeared to tick the biggest box asked of it: bringing in a manufacturer as a partner.
That is believed to be a significant factor in why FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem felt it was necessary to start a formal evaluation process, although some stakeholders doubted whether GM would truly be involved.
In an interview with NBC Sports, GM Motorsports’ executive director of competition Eric Warren has said there is a “hardcore” effort between both Andretti and Cadillac to ready a car for 2025 as targeted and reiterated a message that has been stressed for some time, that GM is assisting on aerodynamics, mechanical design and “combustion”.
“It was probably surprising to those who read the application how much involvement GM really has and where we’re splitting up the vehicle dynamics and how we’re doing it today vs how we’re going to do it as the team matures,” said Warren.
“Really we’ve just responded back to questions that the FIA has, and they’re supposed to make a decision July 15.
“We’re really just doing our best with the process and having discussions where we can.
“But it’s been pretty formal in the sense of requests for information and responding.”
The Race understands that the Andretti Cadillac combination has impressed some stakeholders more than any of the other candidates but that is no guarantee of an entry being granted.
A decision was originally hoped to be reached by the end of June but there were delays early in the process as more information was requested from candidates, which meant the final evaluation stage was extended too.
Andretti Cadillac needs to win over several entities to get on the grid.
It has the strong and open support of Ben Sulayem, who emphasised that in an interview with The Associated Press this week in which he said “imagine me saying no to someone like GM? We have in the regulations that we can go up to 12 teams. But do we allow anyone to enter? No. But how on earth can we refuse GM?”
But Ben Sulayem’s contention that “there is no circumstance where we can deny any teams if they fulfil the criteria to enter” is not quite correct because even if this is the FIA’s stance, F1 itself still has a say.
While this is a process overseen by the FIA, the commercial rights holder has a key role to play. And though the teams do not have an outright say in the matter, they have had a close relationship with F1 on commercial matters in recent years as part of a collective effort to implement a so-called franchise model.
One concern about this proposal is that it would just be the same Andretti project which had not won over senior figures in F1 previously but now with a pseudo-works deal attached – for example, using a customer engine as Andretti Cadillac in 2025 then badging that engine in its own name the following year.
Another issue is that Andretti would try to run the team from the US, which some in F1 believe is a serious obstacle to being a successful entry. F1’s current American team, Haas, operates primarily out of Europe and has a major Ferrari partnership.
But there are obvious potential perks to this bid, too.
Bringing in two American brands in Andretti and Cadillac, with GM’s involvement attached and the loose promise of evaluating a works engine programme, would on paper be a perfect match for F1 and its efforts to grow, or at least sustain, its increased level of interest in the United States.
Warren said that this programme, which GM started to get behind in October last year, is a full Cadillac project not just something Andretti is doing with GM’s blessing.
“From a business standpoint, you look at the growth of F1 and the number of eyeballs on it, and us building the Cadillac brand, it’s a natural fit,” he said.
“We’re hopeful with General Motors getting into that and how we’re doing globally, it would be a really strong add to Formula 1.
“Our entire company, from the board of directors from the first time I was in the board meeting when it came up, the commitment is really there throughout the whole leadership.”