As Formula 1 plays hard to get, I am filled with admiration for Michael Andretti’s relentless push to have his bid accepted despite the shortsighted reluctance of the current teams, and here’s a suggestion: Andretti Audi.
The pinnacle of the sport to me means the best of everything, drivers, cars, tyres, engineers, mechanics and of course teams; and sadly of the ten teams currently in F1 probably half of them are in the top ten, the others are not, more like top 50.
It’s pure greed and reluctance to share the substantial pie that F1 provides, billions of cash funnelled to Liberty Media of course and then shared with the ten teams who are there because of sheer luck rather than pure merit.
The franchising of F1 has proven to be elitist for a sport that the FIA and everyone tout as the pinnacle of motorsport, then it should not be an exclusive club where entry is blocked.
Andretti is still playing Mr Nice Guy, but if he decided to play hardball I would advise him to see what US and European law says about restraint of trade, monopolies and unfair competition.
Surely if you are the pinnacle of something, any sport for that matter, you cannot be exclusive to just ten entities? It has to be all-encompassing.
Anyway, that would be rough to go down the legal route, but as a last resort that would be the caveat to blowing the Concorde agreement, and all those shady side deals, out of the water and might be the time to fully restructure the sport at the highest level.
Meanwhile, it appears Red Bull and Porsche are set to announce a deal in the wake of the most protracted and bizarre confirmation by Volkswagen that both their brands are seeking an F1 entry.
Audi is out shopping for a for an F1 team
Although I believe Andretti Porsche would be a mouthwatering prospect, for the sake of this piece, let’s assume Red Bull has that deal sealed; which leaves Audi…
Step in Andretti who has said the $200-million entry fee to be the 11th team on the F1 grid is chump change for them as they have substantial backing in place for the project earmarked for 2025.
If the two ‘racing institutions’ joined forced, the “argument of what value do they bring to our sport” is suddenly a non-issue because Audi have won Le Mans, only Porsche has more with 19 wins and Ferrari is third with nine victories at the great race. And of course, Andretti Autosport has won everything from Indycar through to V8 Supercars and a lot in between.
Andretti Audi ticks every box and to me, it is a surprise that there appears to be no synergy happening at the time of writing, the logic is glaring for both organisations and would launch one of the most exciting F1 projects this century. If they have not sat down to discuss a partnership, I wish they would.
The problem is that cabal that runs F1 now, not only F1, FIA but also Toto, Red Bull, Ferrari etc have appointed themselves into ‘the show’ for life, no matter how shit your team is, you lucked into the, very narrow, right window of opportunity to be part of F1 forever.
So what they are saying is that racing organisations with huge pedigree, big resources and infrastructure have no way into the pinnacle, thus there is no way in for Andretti, or Penske or Joest, Dallara or whoever wants to seriously venture down the F1 path.
Bigger teams are needed to close the gap between F1 and F1.5 brigade
And this obviously dilutes the quality of F1 teams, resulting in the mediocrity we now have where only two or three teams are streets ahead of the rest, the gap massive to the point that we have Formula 1 and Formula 1.5.
But no worries for the backmarkers, they’re safe because there is no way out unless they fold even if they don’t bring value to the sport such as Haas and Williams of a couple of years ago. They would have no right being in F1 if it was really a sport where the ten best teams on the planet are in the mix.
For that matter, it’s a huge shame that Max Moseley’s idea of having a relegation and promotion style structure for teams to stay in F1 or drop down to F2, a bit like soccer when a team does bad in the First Division, they drop to the second and the team/s that do well go up for the next season.
But the once healthy pipeline between F1 and other motorsport disciplines was severed by Bernie Ecclestone, and consolidated by the ten lucky teams who were at the right place at the right time.
And to be honest, of the ten, half deserve to be in F1, as for the rest, all I can say is there are far bigger, better and more pedigreed racing organisations to run F1 programmes, but they were long ago marginalised and have no way into the biggest show in motorsport.
One could also argue that a decade ago, very much the usual suspects voted to allow F1 to have 12 teams, remember Caterham, Marussia and HRT.
Andretti Audi will tick should tick all the boxes F1 requires of a competitive new team
Three organisations with no pedigree as constructors or even running big non-F1 teams, operating with minimal resources and infra-structure that were always doomed to fail.
This will most certainly not be the case with Andretti Audi combining their considerable resources and infrastructure, which is more like the merging of two goliaths of motorsport aligning to shut up the no-entry club that F1 has become.
Michael Andretti made a high-profile visit to the Miami Grand Prix paddock to punt his project, meeting with the sport’s head honchos, teams and the like, declaring afterwards that now he had “direction” to work to.
For now, he has Zak Brown of McLaren on his side as well as engine suppliers Alpine for now who are next in line to supply a new team; but let’s wait until Andretti does an all-inclusive deal for PUs with Audi, then we will see where they stand on the matter.
It will probably never happen but if it did I for one will be the first to sign up for the Andretti Audi fan club just to see Toto and his pals squirm when “Andretti Audi driver Colton Herta wins a Grand Prix” headlines sprout and open the door to the American market in the manner they clearly do not conceive.
That season of Netflix will break the internet!