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Formula 1

Our verdict on Andretti’s FIA approval and what F1 should do

7 min read

After months of waiting, Andretti and Cadillac have FIA approval for their planned Formula 1 team.

But that hasn't actually brought it any closer to actually getting on the grid, because the biggest obstacle to that has always been the reticence of F1 itself - and the application is now in F1's hands.

Here are our writers' thoughts on the FIA's decision and the contentious prospect of F1 still saying no:


Glenn Freeman

Here comes the next phase of the dance. And we all know how it’s going to play out.

The FIA has done its bit. Now F1 will undertake a presumably-lengthy process before coming to the conclusion it - and by extension the 10 teams already on the inside - wanted all along. Andretti will inevitably be rejected.

One of the many arguments around this debate that bothers me, is the one where it is asked ‘What value would Andretti bring to F1 as an 11th team?’

That’s a dangerous question for a lot of people in the pitlane to be asking. If we really want to scrutinise it, you can put that question to a bunch of the teams already on the grid - probably four or five of them - and the answer wouldn’t be very convincing.

And if those teams offering little added value of their own to F1 get a pass just because they’re already here, then that’s not a good enough reason to reject Andretti.

It all boils down to what has been behind the scepticism towards Andretti all along: greed. Nobody wants to cut the pie into an 11th piece.

But F1’s rules allow for more teams. The governing body held a thorough process, and out of four candidates, it approved one, showing that the barrier to entry was high.

So if there’s someone credible enough out there, let’s have more cars on the grid.

F1 claims to be much more fan-focused in this era, and a large majority of fans want this. I suspect we’re about to find out that being fan-focused only applies when it suits those who preach it.


Scott Mitchell-Malm

With the FIA now passing on all the details of the Andretti bid to F1 itself for "commercial discussions", more people will finally discover exactly what its proposed entry would entail. And I hope some of that information begins to filter out publicly, for both Andretti and the failed bids.

In the interest of transparency, everybody deserves to know what it is about the Andretti application that has won over the FIA, given it is the only bid to have been approved for the final phase of the process.

I can't imagine those behind the Hitech, Rodin Cars or LKY SUNZ applications will simply take the FIA's word as gospel that Andretti's was just better.

Given the confidential nature of this process, the contentious discourse around it for well over a year, and the fact F1 clearly still needs to be convinced that Andretti will add something to the championship if the commercial discussions are to be concluded successfully, there is bound to be some paranoia about certain details leaking out.

But right now we're in no-man's land in terms of knowledge. An F1 entry has been "approved" by the FIA for a final, high-stakes round of discussions with Formula One Management but we have zero real detail on its relative strengths and weaknesses and where the others supposedly fell short.

Hopefully, before too long, that starts to change.


Mark Hughes

This was always a potentially awkward situation - going right back to when FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem unilaterally opened up the tendering process for additional teams.

He was under no obligation to do that but once he’d done it the FIA was under an obligation to consider the applications. Furthermore, if any applicant met the conditions laid down in that process, the FIA was obliged to accept the application. Otherwise it would be in legally dubious territory.

So now F1 has been placed in a situation whereby if it refuses to grant a commercial deal, it could be subject to lawsuits and a whole host of complications.

This could drag on through the law courts for years.


Jack Benyon

I think it’s fair to say Michael Andretti and his team have ‘ruffled a few feathers’ in trying to push through their own Formula 1 team.

But criticising F1 and its teams in the media as Andretti has done in the past - admittedly sometimes in reaction to others discussing their view of its addition to the series - will only get you so far, especially when you consider F1 is basically a franchise model seen all over modern American sports, and that the teams are just protecting their own interests as any other squad in any other sport would do.

I hope the result of today’s news is not to think that Andretti’s approach has been vindicated in some way, but to instead set about more low-key lobbying of F1 and its teams to get the job done with a bit more gravitas.

Continuing to call out the system and the people in it doesn’t feel like the way to get what you want here.

While it's F1’s job to protect the championship’s future, from a storyline aspect, it would be fantastic to have a new team capable of drawing headlines like Andretti.

But a more under-the-radar, understated approach will be the only way to get this team over the line, as this feels like only the first of some significant hurdles to make this happen.


Gary Anderson

This is when the war of words between the FIA and the current teams/F1 as to who runs and, more importantly, who makes the decisions for the future direction of F1 will come to a crescendo.

Andretti is a team worthy of a chance in F1 and hasn’t been exactly mincing its words when it comes to why it should be accepted.

In reality, F1 could do with a couple more potential frontrunning cars.

But the bigger picture is that nearly all the track facilities will need reviewing before it can handle more cars, so that is a big commitment for most circuits. Two more teams in Monaco could very quickly lead to having to move the pit complex to a different location.

With Liberty Media driving Formula 1 to higher viewing levels all across the media platforms, an American team with the history of the Andretti name - mainly Mario - attached to it is just what it needs to strengthen its foothold in that marketplace.

But being accepted and actually putting it all together are two very different things. So watch this space for future developments.


Matt Beer

I'm pro the idea of more teams on the F1 grid, and especially one as intriguing as this Andretti/Cadillac package would be.

But Andretti's got a lot to prove competitively. It's only an American motorsport powerhouse in past reputation and family dynasty terms these days.

Jake Dennis's Formula E world title for its electric arm this year was the first major championship honour for an Andretti driver in anything other than rallycross and junior series in over a decade.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was its last IndyCar champion way back in 2012. It hasn't won the Indianapolis 500 since Takuma Sato's 2017 success for it.

It's not just traditional arch-rivals Penske and Ganassi leaving Andretti behind in its IndyCar heartland right now. McLaren's produced more convincing title bids in recent years and the only Andretti driver in the IndyCar championship top 10 this year - Colton Herta - was behind Rahal Letterman Lanigan's top contender too.

Failing in IndyCar doesn't mean Andretti will fail in F1. The project it now has to put together will be so different and if it recruits the right people and gets its facilities right, what it's done in IndyCar lately will be irrelevant to its F1 form.

But it's not in a position of competitive strength right now in the series most of its reputation relies on.

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