FIA Endorses Michael Andretti’s Bid for New Formula One Team

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The FIA acknowledged on Monday that Michael Andretti possesses all the qualifications necessary to establish a Formula One team, a crucial passage on track to grow the F1 racing grid to comprise eleven teams. Still, this doesn’t secure that Andretti will receive approval for a two-car team. Andretti Global and Cadillac, who are partners, have to demonstrate their commercial value to Liberty Media, F1’s rights holder, as well as to the current teams, which stand staunchly against enlarging the existing 20-car grid, despite their lack of voting power on the matter.

Nonetheless, the announcement made on Monday was a significant stride in Andretti’s three-year journey to bring back one of the most distinguished racing legacy to the zenith of motorsport. Tracing back, Mario Andretti, the patriarch of the Andretti clan, clinched the 1978 F1 championship while Michael, his son, undertook 13 races in the 1993 season. This formidable duo ranks third and fourth respectively in IndyCar’s all-time victory tally and have been ardently trying to reclaim the Andretti glory in F1.

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In this endeavor, they’ve made considerable headway, manifested by support from FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. He explained, “Andretti Formula Racing LLC’s application was the one to fulfill all required criteria in every material sense. Kudos to Michael Andretti and his team for their comprehensive submission. The application will now advance to the next round.”

Ben Sulayem assumed the position as FIA’s chief in late 2021, leading the institution to open an “expression of interest” process for potential new teams this year. This was a response to Andretti’s proposal for grid expansion following an unsuccessful bid to acquire an existing team in 2021.

The FIA received seven applications, out of which five proceeded to the second phase demanding a steep fee of $300,000 and a meticulous evaluation by F1’s governing body. Only four applicants endured the rigorous process, and amongst them, Andretti stood out. Backed by engines badged under the prestigious General Motors-owned Cadillac, Andretti was deemed the only worthy contender.

Emphasizing on the painstaking due diligence involved in the application review, Ben Sulayem stated, “our mission was to approve only prospective applications that meet the established criteria and demonstrated increasing sport value.”

Despite Andretti’s apparent qualifications and the backing of General Motors, several current teams, especially F1 giants Red Bull and Mercedes have expressed their opposition to any grid expansion, arguing the fiscal implications of such a development. They contend their considerable investments and the unprofitability of ushering in new teams, which will in turn subtract from their financial gain.

However, Ben Sulayem stands firm by the Andretti venture and asserts that the integration of the Andretti name and General Motors to the series are too substantial to be indiscriminately dismissed. Pointing to the positive response towards the potential inclusion of new teams, Ben Sulayem added, “this move has also garnered further commitment from Audi, Honda, and Ford along with the interest from Porsche and General Motors.”

In conclusion, it’s a thrilling period for F1 fans globally as rigorous negotiations and debates continue. The blend of traditional racing royalty with the might of noteworthy automotive manufacturers, promises a thrilling expansion for this beloved sport.