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Formula 1

Andretti's major coup highlights a glaring F1 contradiction

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

It's hard to know in more concrete terms what signing Pat Symonds means for Andretti without being aware of the finer details, like how long his gardening leave at Formula 1 is and what role he's actually going to have (beyond what for now is a fairly nebulous 'executive engineering consultant' job title).

And you could be ultra-cynical and say he's only going there for a payday before the project finally gets shut off. But I just can't see the logic in that.

Symonds has been around the block so many times. He'll know if this bid is about to be wound up in a couple of months anyway, and were that the case he's not going to get anything out of it because he has to finish his gardening leave. So if it was going to be shut down by the time he gets there, what's the point?

He must be going to Andretti thinking it is either definitely going to happen or has a good chance of happening - or it might even be the case that he thinks he could be the thing that gets it over the line.

Hiring someone so senior directly from the organisation that's just rejected it is, just in terms of optics, a good little win for Andretti. It's a nice bit of PR value. But it's obviously more than that too because Symonds is respected; he's knowledgeable and he's got great contacts, so he's a tangible asset as well.

So you can only really see this as a win for Andretti - assuming it is a serious move and he's actually going to get to be part of the project and it's not all going to fall down before he arrives. But I'd be really surprised if he'd be going there if he thought there was a realistic prospect of that happening.

You would also imagine this means that Symonds disagrees with F1's assessment that Andretti couldn't be competitive. Why would he go to an organisation if he thought that was going to be the case?

It's a splinter of an opinion, but crucially it's one of F1's most senior individuals, with among the most experience in that organisation of what it actually takes to succeed in F1 - on a comparable level with CEO Stefano Domenicali - who clearly believes it can be successful.

If nothing else, that slightly undermines the claim that this team couldn't be competitive - because the chief technical officer of F1 is joining it.

He is not going to waste his time there, so that's certainly at odds with F1's justification.

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