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Formula 1

Fresh Andretti rebuttal adds new twists to F1 rejection row

by Josh Suttill
4 min read

Andretti's fiery rebuttal against two key points of Formula 1's justification for rejecting it raises some fresh questions as well as providing answers.

Andretti has released a new statement two days on from F1's commercial rights holder officially denying it a place on the F1 grid for 2025 or 2026, a decision that only came months after the FIA green-lit its application from its side.

An initial statement from Andretti said it "strongly disagreed" with F1's decision and insisted it would continue to work on its F1 car.

Now its latest statement specifically addresses two points of F1's emphatic rejection reasoning.

It targets both the notion Andretti was still considering a 2025 entry - which F1 implied was too ambitious for it to be competitive - and that it had avoided a meeting with F1 management.

Andretti's statement in full

  • When Andretti Cadillac entered the FIA expression of interest process almost a year ago, the preferred first year of participation was indicated as 2025. The FIA approved our application, with no specific limitation on whether the entry was for 2025 or 2026. 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.
  • We were not aware that the offer of a meeting had been extended and would not decline a meeting with Formula 1 Management. An in-person meeting to discuss commercial matters would be and remains of paramount importance to Andretti Cadillac. We welcome the opportunity to meet with Formula 1 Management and have written to them confirming our interest.

Andretti concluded its statement by stating "our work continues at pace".

Andretti also claims F1's offer of a meeting went to its email spam folder, according to the Associated Press.

Regardless of whether that is correct, it only serves to further muddy the waters of an already tense, public disagreement between Andretti and F1's gatekeeper.

The Race says

Scott Mitchell-Malm

Andretti Cadillac's clarifications in response to two specific parts of F1's rationale are extremely significant. But they do not make everything as clear as is necessary.

A vague claim that Andretti was not aware F1 had offered to meet face-to-face seems strange at first. F1 would not lie about such a fact in a formal statement given the potential for legal action in the future - so the offer must have been extended. 

That's why a suggestion that the vital F1 invitation landed in an email spam folder and was missed is genuinely important (as well as surprising and twistedly amusing).

If that is the case, and it would be quite something if it is, then it would remove a big question mark over Andretti's conduct. It didn't just shrug and say 'no' to an F1 invitation, which would reflect very poorly on those concerned.

Presumably F1 did not feel obliged to chase up the invitation for that very reason - Andretti seemingly ignoring the offer would help F1 build its case against it. What we don't know is if Andretti tried to get another meeting once it realised the supposed email issue. Or if that has only just happened. It is angling for a meeting now, and the fact it is publicly requesting that lends some credibility to the notion it genuinely did not realise the initial offer existed. 

But beyond ignored emails and spam filters, the other point Andretti has raised is massive - that it is preparing for 2026, not 2025. 

If that is the case then it is strange that it did not come up in the information exchanged with F1 about its application. Clearly F1 worked on the firm belief/expectation that Andretti only had eyes on 2025 as that's what key parts of its rejection are built around.

Indeed, some of the strongest language was reserved for the prospect of Andretti wanting to build one car for 2025 and a completely different one to new rules for 2026. F1 said it "gives us reason to question their understanding of the scope of the challenge involved". 

So, if Andretti Cadillac really has been "operating with 2026 as the year of entry for many months now" as it claims, that would undermine the strength and validity of a key part of F1's rationale. 

But a potentially confusing factor here is that it was only October last year that Michael Andretti emphatically stated that his organisation was "still shooting for 2025".

Of course it's possible that at the time it was true, and Andretti Cadillac pivoted to a 2026 focus very, very soon after. That might just about count as "many months" ago.

But it's fair to consider it a point of contention for now, one that Andretti could perhaps clarify with F1 should it get the in-person meeting it wants to belatedly arrange.

There's no denying Andretti can have some legitimate grievances with the points it has raised here, and some of F1's justification for rejecting the bid. 

But addressing F1's statement in this manner has raised fresh questions as well as provided some answers. 

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