There are obstacles in Michael Andretti’s way as he attempts to expand his racing empire to Formula 1.
For the foreseeable future, there will only be 20 cars in the Formula 1 grid. F1 announced earlier today that it had turned down Andretti Global’s offer to compete in the sport in 2025. The majority of the teams and Formula One have not expressed much enthusiasm for Andretti’s entry, so the move was not shocking. The sport stated that “it would look different on an application” in 2028, but it also sent out a lengthy statement outlining its reasons for rejecting Andretti’s entry.
In addition to being a setback for Andretti and its supporters, the action also suggests growing discord between Liberty Media, the company that owns the world championship’s commercial rights, and the FIA, the organization that oversees the sport.
Andretti Global, which presently competes in IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E, and IMSA sportscar racing, among other series, first revealed its intention to join Formula One in January of last year. After a month, the FIA formally launched the application process for new teams to join the sport. Out of the four applicants, only Andretti had the support of a significant automaker, in this case the Cadillac brand of General Motors.
Yes, the FIA said.
After completing its due diligence over several months, the FIA approved Andretti Global’s application in October.
Beginning with the Expressions of Interest process, the FIA made it very clear that it would be imposing strict entry requirements. Following extensive research during the application process, our goal was to only approve potential entries that met the requirements and demonstrated how they would improve the sport, according to FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
The only organization that met all of the material requirements for selection was Andretti Formula Racing LLC. Michael Andretti and his group deserve praise for their comprehensive submission. Ben Sulayem added, “I also want to thank all potential teams for their interest and participation.
But nowadays, the FIA isn’t the only body that decides who gets to compete in Formula One. A contract with the owner of the commercial rights to the sport must also accompany any accepted entry. Liberty Media currently owns those rights, and one of the modifications made to the sport since the sale to Liberty is that each team now receives a significantly larger portion of the earnings.
The $200 million “anti-dilution fee” that new entrants are expected to bring with them is meant to make up for the money that the current 10 teams would lose if the $1 billion pie had to be split 11 ways. However, that sum was established prior to F1’s recent surge in value and popularity, and current teams have demanded that it be increased threefold to $600 million.
During the review process, F1 claims to have taken into account the value that Andretti Global’s entry would bring to the series, “including value to fans, the prestige and reputational value of the sport, the competitive balance of the Championship, and the sustainability goals of the sport.”
The potential competitiveness of the new team, the source of the team’s engines, the possibility of the team attracting new supporters, and the potential effects of an eleventh team on the grand prix weekend’s operations were some of the factors taken into account. Although F1 claims to have consulted with important parties, it did not consult with any of the ten active F1 teams during the process.
Several of F1’s criticisms of Andretti’s entry seem well-founded. The agreement between F1 and GM to build Cadillac powertrains only kicks in in 2028, and as of right now, there isn’t an engine supplier for 2025 or 2026. Although there isn’t a formal agreement between the two, Renault has previously stated that it would be willing to provide Andretti Global with powertrains as a customer team if its bid were accepted. In fact, given the regulations governing powertrain constructors in the sport, Renault would most likely be required to provide Andretti with engines.
F1 also notes that at the beginning of the 2026 season, the sport’s technical regulations will undergo significant changes. “The Applicant proposes, as a novice constructor, to design and build a car under the 2025 regulations, and then in the very next year to design and build a completely different car under the 2026 regulations,” it states.
“Further, the Applicant proposes to attempt this with a dependency on a compulsory supply from a rival PU manufacturer that will inevitably be reticent to extend its collaboration with the Applicant beyond the minimum required while the Applicant pursues its ambition of collaborating with GM as a PU supplier in the longer term, which a compulsory PU supplier would see as a risk to its intellectual property and know-how,” F1 states.
Although there is some recognition associated with the Andretti name, Formula One believes that “F1 would bring value to the Andretti brand rather than the other way around.” However, it states that the most important way to add value to Formula One would be to be competitive, which it does not think Andretti would be. Although Andretti Global would not improve Formula One, it does leave the door open for a few more years:
If a team with a GM power unit applied to enter the 2028 Championship, we would consider them differently, either as a GM works team or as a GM customer team that designs all permitted components internally. In this instance, there would be more considerations to take into account regarding the value that the applicant would provide to the Championship, specifically regarding the introduction of a prestigious new OEM as a PU supplier to the sport.
Should you wish to discuss added value…
When evaluating Andretti Global’s prospects of competitive success should it decide to join the F1 grid next year, F1 is most likely not wrong. It is, quite charitably, the fourth-best team in IndyCar racing, and its driver, Colton Herta, has not finished higher than tenth in the championship in the previous two years, which disqualifies him from obtaining an F1 “Super License.”
Moreover, Andretti Global plans to divide its departments among several locations: aerodynamicists would work in Cologne, Germany, utilizing Toyota’s wind tunnel (a method that McLaren recently abandoned in favor of building its own); vehicle dynamics would be carried out in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the GM Motorsports facility; and car design and the race team would be based in Silverstone, England. The Haas team has experimented with split approaches of this type with limited success.
However, is the Haas team any more valuable to Formula One than an Andretti team would be? Güenther Steiner, the outgoing team principal at Haas, was the company’s greatest asset until recently. The Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive catapulted Steiner to fame, but Haas recently fired him after Haas, the team owner, turned down his requests for additional funding to boost the group’s output.
While we’re on the subject, I don’t think Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber or Visa Cash App RB offer anything more than the two most bizarre F1 team names ever.
Purchasing Haas by Andretti Global is one possible remedy. Andretti just needs the entry, not Haas’ facilities in the UK, Italy, or North Carolina, so that wouldn’t be good news for anyone who works for Haas currently. However, Gene Haas has made it clear time and time again that he has no intention of selling his team to anyone. Last year, he even turned down minority investors who preferred to use their money at Alpine.
Andretti now has the ball in his court. It has already started working on the basic design of its Formula One car, and now that the FIA has approved its entry, it may file a lawsuit against Formula One for engaging in anti-competitive behavior—a charge that the European Union takes very seriously. It may also choose to try again in 2028. GM has previously stated that it will only enter the Formula One Championship with Andretti and not with any other team.
Andretti Cadillac provided Ars the following statement regarding its Formula One entry following the publication of this story:
After analyzing the data that Formula One Management Limited provided, Andretti Cadillac vehemently disagrees with what it says. A real American works team will compete in Formula One alongside the greatest in the world thanks to the efforts of two prosperous international motorsports companies, Cadillac and Andretti. With an experienced team behind us, we are proud of the great strides we have already made toward creating a highly competitive vehicle and power unit, and we keep up the good work.
Additionally, Andretti Cadillac would like to recognize and thank all of the supporters.