Last week, Andretti Global revealed a huge coup. It has formed an alliance with General Motors, which is assisting the organisation with its bid to establish a team on the Formula 1 grid. Andretti has been making noise for some time regarding an F1 presence – but now, it can’t be ignored.
Andretti has faced resistance from several teams since it announced its intentions to form a team on the grid amid concerns that it would ‘devalue’ the F1 championship. The end-of-year payouts would be diluted – a personal hit to the money magnates that are spread throughout the paddock.
From a fan’s point of view, Andretti’s entry should be met with open arms. The inclusion of an 11th team is a badly needed ingredient that F1 is missing as there are several F1-worthy drivers that are missing out due to the exclusivity that is involved with the current 10 squads.
Andretti’s push to grow its organisation isn’t solely F1-related. Although it is obviously the most lucrative challenge, it wants to establish itself as a force that can compete at Le Mans, Monaco and Daytona, to name a few. In short, it wants to have a slice of every racing pie and wants to do so out of a new $200 million factory from Fishers, Indiana.
F1 itself has been cautious over Andretti’s involvement. CEO Stefano Domenicali has highlighted on several occasions that any entry must keep the championship credible. But if there were any doubts over Andretti, all should be eliminated with the involvement of General Motors.
The plan is to bring Cadillac to F1 with Andretti to further boost the American stance the team is taking. Should the team take shape, at least one of its drivers will be an American – with IndyCar’s Colton Herta the current favourite for a seat.
The timing of Andretti’s potential involvement couldn’t be better and is likely no coincidence. The sport is currently booming in the US, so much so that Red Bull wanted to bring Herta to AlphaTauri in 2023 largely based on his nationality. There will also be three races in the country next year which are all likely to be sellouts. There is a glaring opportunity for both Andretti and General Motors to advertise and increase its presence in both the US and around the world.
While F1 has been more hostile towards Andretti, the FIA is seemingly a welcoming party. However, any new entry must be agreed upon by both the FIA and F1 which could create more political drama between the two parties.
“In the end it is still and FIA series and the president has definitely showed that he would really like to have an 11th team on the grid,” Michael Andretti said, relating to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s greeting response. “He’s a racer and understands the importance of that for the series as well. We feel very confident that once the expression of interest goes out, especially having our great partnership with Cadillac, that we have a very very good shot at checking every box and being able to be on the grid soon.”
While some teams were clearly made uneasy by the prospect of an 11th team, Andretti’s voice can no longer be thought of as wishful thinking. General Motors was listed as the number one carmaker in the US last year in terms of sales, and its impact on the global automotive industry is something that F1 can’t turn away.
“One of the big things was well, ‘What does Andretti bring to the party?’ Well we’re bringing one of the biggest manufacturers in the world with us in GM and Cadillac,” Andretti highlighted. “So that was the one box we didn’t have checked which we do have checked now, and will bring a tremendous amount of support to Formula 1, and it’s hard for anyone to argue with that now.”
Although there is still an extensive process to go through, it should feel almost inevitable now that Andretti will get its wish and form up on the field. And if it is competitive and provides more opportunities for deserving drivers on the grid, then it will be ruled as a positive development – despite the discontent nature that some current F1 organisations have displayed.
This opinion article originally appeared in issue 499 of our weekly digital motorsport magazine, Motorsport Monday. Completely free to read with no sign-up necessary, Motorsport Monday is published every Monday morning and is packed full of motorsport content. Check out the latest issue here.