Andretti looking at Force India takeover for 2019?
Andretti Autosport may be looking at launching a takeover bid for the Force India outfit, which could see a second US-owned team on the grid for 2019.
According to our sister publication Motorsport Monday group editor Joe Saward, Michael Andretti was seen in the Canadian Grand Prix paddock alongside company president J-F Thormann and Alexander Rossi's father Pieter Rossi.
Whilst Andretti looks set to run a McLaren-backed entrant in IndyCar for 2019 with Fernando Alonso behind the wheel, Saward suspects Andretti and Co's presence was linked to something greater.
"You wouldn't need the other two to get a deal with Alonso to race an Andretti-run, McLaren-badged Indycar, so it was obvious that they were also up to other things," Saward wrote in his latest Notebook column.
"Visits to Liberty Media and Force India suggested that they were there to sniff around and see if a deal could be put together to acquire the troubled team."
Force India is for sale, that's widely known, given the problems of its owners Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy, both of which owe many hundreds of millions to the Indian government. Whilst the former faces extradition charges, the latter has already spent time in jail but is currently on parole.
The team owes roughly $20 million (£15m) to Mercedes for its engine supply alone and it's clear the shareholders are unable to pay the team's debts. It was reported that Liberty Media recently loaned the team money to keep it afloat, though this could have been an advance on its prize money, something Bernie Ecclestone often did to ensure the team remained afloat.
Liberty are keen to expand in the US – Miami is set to join the calendar in 2019 as part of those efforts – and a second US-owned team alongside Haas would provide a major boost, particularly as Andretti has links to Rossi, who remains one of the country's best hopes for F1. Therefore if Andretti have indicated an interest in taking over Force India, the survival of the team until the a deal is agreed is in Liberty's interests.
When asked by Sports Business Daily if Andretti were interested in Force India, the team issued a brief statement which certainly didn't deny the idea.
"Andretti Autosport is a diverse Motorsports property and we have many discussions about opportunities within and outside of our current portfolio."
Indeed, Andretti currently operates in some of the largest motorsport series including IndyCar and Formula E, therefore a move into F1 isn't out of the question.