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Formula E

Will new Andretti company be McLaren’s route into Formula E?

by Sam Smith
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The Andretti family has formed an all-new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that intends to raise a quarter of a billion dollars through an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

The move, which is seen as part of a future-proofing exercise for the Andretti group of companies, could be part of plans to attract a new manufacturer for the Gen3 era of the ABB FIA Formula E world championship in 2022/23.

The Andretti Autosport team has been BMW’s Formula E partner so far, but the German firm is leaving the series at the end of the current season.

Andretti will continue to use its powertrain for the final season of the Gen2 rules.

Maximilian Guenther BMW Andretti Formula E

The Andretti Acquisition Corporation (AAC), has been founded recently by Michael Andretti and has been confirmed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an independent agency of the United States federal government, with an objective of raising $250,000,000 via an initial public offering at 25,000,000 shares set at $10 each.

Although Andretti would not confirm whether its Formula E future might be part of the recent filing with the SEC when approached by The Race today, its public documents do detail a desire to “focus on opportunities that can benefit from the iconic Andretti brand name, both inside and outside of the worldwide motorsports platform and the expertise and ability of our management team to identify, acquire and grow a business in the broadly-defined automotive industry”.

The filing details also stated that “advanced mobility and related next-generation technologies, premium and performance vehicles and replacement automotive parts” was a key aim for AAC.

The initial corporate structure of AAC has Michael Andretti (below) as co-chief executive officer and director, and his 1978 F1 world champion father Mario is detailed as a special advisor.

Michael Andretti

Former US Concrete CEO Bill Sandbrook is named as co-chief executive officer and chairman, with his former colleague at that firm, Matt Brown, named as CFO.

McLaren F1 CEO Zak Brown also appears as a shareholding director. He has a close relationship with Andretti through a joint investment in the Walkinshaw Racing Supercars team which they made in 2017.

They are also combining forces in the nascent Extreme E series where Andretti Autosport and Brown’s United Autosport concern will work together.

Extreme E Andretti United

Brown attended last month’s Diriyah E-Prix Formula E opener and held several meetings with a view to activating McLaren’s option to enter Formula E for the first Gen3 season in 2022/23.

Although the full line-up of competitors for that season is yet to be known, it is broadly believed that two options are open to McLaren.

One is a partnership with Andretti, while another is to take over the slot that will be vacated by Audi later this year.

The Race revealed in February that this licence has been placed in Formula E’s control after Audi was unable to agree a buyout deal with interested parties before the January deadline.

Audi Formula E Rene Rast

This means that only 11 teams could be competing in Formula E next season, the final one of the Gen2 era.

However, a satellite team agreement, similar to the one used by Mercedes-Benz via the HWA Racelab entrant in 2018/19, could be used in conjunction with a manufacturer new to Formula E if one commits before the registration deadline next week.

At present Mahindra, DS Automobiles and Nissan have committed as manufacturers for Gen3 but this list is expected to grow – with Porsche and Mercedes set to confirm their own agreements in the coming days.

The IPO listing issued by AAC yesterday confirmed one of its industry targets as being the EV sector, stating that it intends to “explore opportunities in battery and storage technologies, charging infrastructure and sustainable fuels”.

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