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Formula 1

Where Andretti's F1 bid really stands after dramatic escalation

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
7 min read

Formula 1 has been accused of making “excuses” to deny Andretti and General Motors a new entry, by a senior United States politician who has queried whether the “entire Formula 1 model may be broken”.

Scrutiny of F1’s rejection of the planned GM-backed Andretti Cadillac entry has been escalated recently by mounting political pressure in the US.

Andretti Global’s planned 2026 F1 team has been in limbo for months, ever since the commercial rights holder dismissed its application despite the FIA previously giving Andretti the green light in October last year.

Despite being blocked, Andretti has continued with its preparations, pursued a dialogue with Formula One Management to try to get it to reconsider, and been considering its options should that fail.

Getting political support in the US appears to be crucial to that final point.

Ahead of the Miami Grand Prix, 1978 world champion Mario Andretti was invited to Capitol Hill, as a dozen US politicians signed a first letter calling for more information about the team’s rejection and expressing concerns that F1 was exhibiting "cartel-like behaviour" by refusing to expand the grid.

“It is unfair and wrong to attempt to block American companies from joining Formula 1, which could also violate American antitrust laws,” they said.

This has been followed up by the revelation of a letter sent post-race by another politician, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan, to Liberty Media president and CEO Greg Maffei and F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali, demanding answers.

“The excuses put forward for denying Andretti Cadillac’s entry appear to be pretextual, arbitrary, and unrelated to Andretti Cadillac’s suitability to compete in Formula 1,” Jordan writes in his letter, reported and published by NBC.

He goes on to state: “If Formula 1 must hinder competition and harm consumers to protect failing competitors, then the entire Formula 1 model may be broken and the entity cannot hide behind the necessity of a sports league to pursue anticompetitive conduct.”


F1 logo

The Committee on the Judiciary is authorised to conduct oversight of and legislate on matters relating to the “protection of trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies”.

Jordan believes it has the means to investigate F1, which is owned by US company Liberty Media, because sports leagues “operate in a notable area of antitrust law”.

“When a sports league deviates from its rules and practices in a manner that reduces competition and depresses consumer interest in the product, the collusion may amount to anticompetitive conduct,” Jordan writes.

He asserts that F1 is doing that by rejecting Andretti, and that even delaying the entry by a year “will harm American consumers to benefit failing Formula 1 teams”.

Though it is unclear why Jordan believes American consumers will lose out, it is presumably based on the perceived interest there would be in watching Andretti Cadillac compete.

As for the “failing” teams he cites, that is most likely referencing the fact many teams do not compete regularly for wins and podiums, which F1 used as a benchmark to judge whether Andretti Cadillac would be competitive.

Williams and Haas, F1

F1’s exact wording was that the best mark of competitiveness would be “in particular by competing for podiums and race wins” as “this would materially increase fan engagement and would also increase the value of the championship in the eyes of key stakeholders and sources of revenue such as broadcasters and race promoters”.

“Limiting the number of teams in Formula 1 will increase the price of sponsoring or buying into an existing Formula 1 team,” writes Jordan.

“As the Committee examines this matter and considers potential legislation around the structure and competition of sports leagues, we write to request a staff-level briefing on the decision to deny Andretti Cadillac’s application to join Formula 1.”

This includes demanding documents and communications regarding the process F1 conducted, anything referring or relating to Andretti Global, as well as between or among Formula 1 Group, Liberty Media and the 10 existing teams about the entry of a new team.

F1 has been given until May 21 to respond to Jordan’s letter. The championship is not yet commenting publicly on the matter, but The Race understands its position is unchanged.

Andretti Global said it is “glad” that the decision to investigate the practices of Liberty and FOM has been made.


Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti, F1

F1’s assessment delivered a resounding ‘no’ to the application.

It determined an 11th team would not provide value on its own, and that the most significant way of doing so would be to be competitive - which F1 has controversially pre-emptively concluded Andretti would not be.

F1 fears the need to take a compulsory power unit supply - Andretti had a provisional Renault deal lined up that the French manufacturer no longer seems keen on - would be damaging to the prestige and standing of the championship.

Bruno Famin and Michael Andretti, F1

The rules state that an existing engine manufacturer will be picked to supply any team that cannot strike a deal on its own, so the implication is Andretti would be hamstrung by such an arrangement and potentially more compromised than a normal customer.

While the Andretti name carries some recognition for F1 fans, F1 decided it would be bringing value to the Andretti brand rather than the other way around.

The addition of an 11th team would place an operational burden on race promoters, F1 said, would subject some of them to significant costs, and would reduce the technical, operational and commercial spaces of the other competitors.

F1 also claimed it was not able to identify any material expected positive effect on Liberty Media’s financial results, as a key indicator of the pure commercial value of the championship.


Miami GP, F1

There has been communication between the parties and a meeting was held recently in the weeks leading up to Miami.

This could have happened months ago, when F1 wrote to Andretti in December extending an invitation to an in-person meeting at its offices for Andretti to present its application.

But Andretti did not take F1 up on this offer, which it claimed was the result of not being aware of the invitation as the email ended up in a junk folder.

Despite in-person discussions finally happening, little real progress has been made.

Andretti’s understood to have confirmed its entry is all about 2026, having initially made a lot of noise about 2025 - which was one of F1’s reasons for rejecting it.

However, Andretti does not want to budge on a 2026 entry. It sees competing in 2026 and 2027 as a necessary glidepath before adopting the GM works engine in 2028.

As nothing has fundamentally changed in F1’s position, the impasse continues. The as-yet unsuccessful dialogue may well be what encouraged political interference in the US.

Meanwhile, Andretti has adopted a favoured messaging that it is pushing on with its plans “at pace” - which includes inaugurating a UK base to operate alongside its primary site in Indiana, and other facilities like GM's technology centre.


F1 logo

F1 didn’t close the door completely on Andretti with its rejection earlier this year. There was a carrot dangled for 2028.

That is when the project would have a GM works engine, and F1’s official position is it would look differently on that kind of programme.

But that’s very easy to say now, in a bid to kick the can down the road, shut Andretti up, and then never actually follow through.

Especially as, in its initial rejection of Andretti, F1 argued that a novice constructor in partnership with a new engine supplier would have a significant challenge to overcome. And it pointed out that most of the attempts to establish a new constructor in the last several decades have not been successful.

But it may be that F1 was only acknowledging the challenge involved and would be swayed by the value of bringing a prestigious new manufacturer to the championship.

It is also important to note that the original expression of interest was for 2025, 2026 or 2027. That means the FIA would probably have to re-open the entire process - and give other teams that were originally rejected completely, like Hitech, another shot at getting in.

One other factor that could become relevant is speculation of a proposal to enshrine a maximum 10-team grid in the Concorde Agreement.

Miami GP, F1

This has not been formally acknowledged by F1 or the current teams, and is not thought to be something F1 itself would support - which may suggest the proposal came from one, or several, of the current competitors.

Capping the grid in the commercial agreements signed by F1 and the teams would turn the perception that F1 is a closed shop into reality.

Right now, F1 can legitimately - if tenuously - claim that it is not inherently opposed to expanding the grid because all the relevant regulations and commercial framework allow for more teams to compete.

Eradicating that would be a bad look, as well as self-defeating: if a desirable, manufacturer-backed team was ready and willing to enter F1, the championship would be obliged to turn it away.

So this is not presently thought to be a serious prospect.

The main question is whether F1’s serious about its 2028 proposal - and whether Andretti’s willing to drop its 2026 ambitions, call F1’s bluff and find out.

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