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Verdict: Does Cadillac engine make Andretti F1 snub impossible?

7 min read

The latest twist in Andretti's bid to join the Formula 1 grid in the face of continuing resistance is a works engine deal with General Motors' Cadillac brand from 2028.

The FIA has already given Andretti's bid the green light, but F1 is yet to.

How much should this news change things and does it now make it impossible for F1 to snub Andretti Cadillac's bid?

Here's what our writers think:

The question marks are dwindling

Scott Mitchell-Malm

First Andretti was told to buy a team. It tried. Then it was told to find a car company to partner with. It did. Then it was told, no, not a car company that lets you slap a badge on, a REAL works partner. Now it has.

What is now a General Motors-backed Andretti Cadillac bid with a plan to have its own, fully-fledged works engine (not just a customer Renault) in 2028 has come back stronger every time it has been rebuffed by sceptics in F1.

At the start of this year, GM and Cadillac danced around the notion of their own engine and made a vague reference to it being possible longer term. Now there is an outright commitment before the Andretti entry is even approved.

It cannot be a coincidence - it is surely being done specifically to get that F1 approval, which means Andretti and GM have regrouped in the face of ongoing opposition, looked at what else they could tangibly offer, and decided to put their money where their mouths are. Assuming, of course, it is not just a desperate Hail Mary or a publicity stunt knowing F1’s going to reject them anyway so this just wins more sympathy points (which seems quite unlikely).

You cannot help but be impressed by that. More importantly, it eliminates another argument being held against this would-be F1 programme – nobody can say with a straight face what they were saying earlier in the year, when they questioned whether this was a ‘real’ GM project.

There are still legitimate concerns about this but they are dwindling in number and just as significantly they are less along the lines of ‘is this project worth letting in?’ and more ‘how good will it be?’.

This is not an anti-US slant, it’s just a reflection of what historically has worked. Andretti Cadillac would break the mould – and then some – if a true US-based team and engine project were to be a success.

But after this latest announcement, is there really a convincing argument not to let them try?

It's still not exactly what F1 wants

Ben Anderson

This announcement surely removes any lingering doubts among existing F1 teams about the seriousness of the Andretti-Cadillac proposal to enter F1. Any scepticism this might just have been a GM ‘badging exercise’ to get Andretti through the door won’t stand up at all once a brand new, all-American power unit is on the grid in five years’ time.

But this still doesn't change the fact that what's proposed still doesn't quite fit F1's desired model of 'protect the existing franchises by any new entities taking over existing entries’.

What Audi is doing with Sauber - taking over that team while building a new engine to the new 2026 rules - is exactly what FOM wants to see. This… isn’t quite that. The new engine will of course be very welcome - and even James Vowles is on record saying Williams would very much welcome the addition of General Motors/Cadillac to F1 - but this still requires Stefano Domenicali to admit an 11th team and divvy up the commercial pie accordingly, against the wishes of his existing 10 teams.

This certainly increases the pressure to do so, though. In an ideal world, F1 would surely prefer Haas agreed to sell up and become Andretti-Cadillac, or Williams managed to steal in and convince GM to back a rebranded Williams-Cadillac team, over letting Andretti in.

But that’s not what’s on offer. GM is firmly backing the Andretti horse, so F1 is now going to have to weigh the long-term benefits of welcoming a genuine new American power unit manufacturer onto the grid in 2028 against the short-term disgruntlement it would cause by allowing Andretti a seat at F1’s table.

Claims that teams like Haas and Williams could be existentially threatened by Andretti’s arrival might now have to be stress tested in reality - because GM’s firm commitment to F1’s new engine regs makes it that bit harder to justify turning Andretti away.

This might not be a coincidence...

Glenn Freeman

Let's be optimistic here. Rather than this being GM and Andretti saying 'Look, we're even willing to do this' in a desperate last-ditch attempt to convince F1, what if this announcement isn't a Hail Mary? What if it isn't coincidental, timing-wise?

Let's assume that since the FIA approved Andretti and the awkward conversations with a seemingly unwelcoming F1 organisation have kicked into overdrive, the Andretti project was given a clear set of hoops to jump through. And one of those hoops was, 'Your GM attachment only means anything to us if it's coming in to do a proper F1 engine project'.

GM then agrees, and F1 encourages it to make that decision public. While F1 knows all too well that manufacturers will go back on their word when it suits them, it feels a bit more real if there's a public declaration of intent.

The 10 selfish teams already inside the tent probably still won't be impressed. But F1 should be suitably convinced by getting another of the automotive industry's giants, so it will be easier to bat off those complaints now.

Turning Andretti down would be absurd

Edd Straw

General Motors is the biggest car company that has never competed in Formula 1, so it seems extraordinary to imagine that now it has committed to an engine project it could be rejected.

It’s impossible for any new team to show definitive proof of what value it will add to F1 before the fact. It’s at the point now where turning Andretti down would be absurd - unless there’s some hidden details about their proposal that indicates some fatal flaw in the project. If that existed, the FIA would surely not have accepted its proposal in the first place.

None of this means the project is guaranteed to succeed if it is allowed in. But that would be the case with any new team. The Andretti project has a major manufacturer on board who is committed to building an engine, it apparently has the financial backing and it would be a huge boost to F1 in the USA.

And if F1 were to reject this project simply on the basis that it is not ready for an 11th team no matter how well appointed, that would raise some big questions about Liberty Media’s strategy and leadership when it comes to delivering on its growth objectives.

New engine + new team = tricky

Matt Beer

Another major manufacturer building an engine is great news for F1.

But there are as many failed F1 engine suppliers - especially in the modern era - as there are successful ones, and being a major car brand with success elsewhere in motorsport has not been a passport to avoiding fiery underpowered embarrassment in F1. And would other brands persist as long as Honda did to get from that humiliation stage to success?

So yes, this surely has to help Andretti's cause (and saves the awkward situation of a GM-badged F1 team containing little actual GM input). Yes, it's a great story for F1.

But while it probably helps Andretti get on the grid, it's not necessarily a boost to its chances of being competitive, especially in the short term.

Doesn't address the big issue

Jack Benyon

The dilution issue is still the big one for me, and this doesn’t change that.

I don’t want to say that today’s news isn’t significant, but Andretti has outwardly maintained that this co-operation with GM was much bigger than a badging exercise. Commentators had a right to question that without formal intent of an engine-building programme, but still, GM’s seriousness hasn’t been in doubt on Andretti’s side of the pond and today just reinforces that.

But what this still doesn’t do is solve the issue of how the F1 teams - which are basically franchises - should share more of their prize money pie with Andretti and how that helps them or the series.

A combo of the Andretti name and GM as well as the promise of a US driver is compelling, but can it convince F1 and the teams it brings enough to the table to warrant its chance? 

I think it does deserve the chance, and today’s news certainly strengthens its case. Will it be enough to convince F1? I’m still not sure.

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