michael andretti f1 bid 11th team

Andretti: Formula 1 think we’re a bunch of hillbillies

michael andretti f1 bid 11th team

As Formula 1 dilly-dallies in accepting General Motors-backed Andretti Global’s bid to be the sport’s 11th team, Michael Andretti remains committed to the cause no matter who thinks what of him or his project.

The Andretti bid to become an F1 team is well documented. The project ticks every box with a thick felt-marker, ambitions are clear and GM is firmly onboard as an engine supplier for the long-term, F1 is faced with an offer they cannot refuse, so they might as well take their time giving the nod.

The fact that the FIA, under President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who governs the sport and rubber-stamped the approval for Andretti Global has put F1 chief Stefano Domenicali who has sided with the elitists but does not have many cards to play, and it is his turn to play

In a long-ranging interview on Power Players, Michael Andretti provided insights into the challenges his operation has faced, what his team will bring of value to the sport and of course the stubborn reluctance by the majority of ten teams to keep it an exclusive club of ten.

Reportedly, led by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, the case for not admitting an extra F1 entry is this: “If a team comes in, how can you demonstrate that you’re bringing in more money than it’s actually costing? Because the 11th team means a 10% dilution for everybody else.”

Discussing the hostility shown by the F1 paddock to the Andretti 11th team bid, Michael said: “First of all, they think that we’re a bunch of hillbillies over here and we don’t know what we’re doing. We have a lot of experience in racing, you know? Right. We might come at it from a different angle than everybody else and it might work.”

Our goal with our partners is to be in every major racing event in the world

mario andretti mclaren laguna seca f1

Andretti have wide-ranging interests in motorsports across the world including a Formula E team, an IndyCar team as well as interests in sportscars with Wayne Taylor Racing as well as other projects in the USA and around the globe.

Andretti explained: “Our goal with our partners is to be in every major racing event in the world and going to Le Mans, to Daytona 500, to Indy 500 to Monaco. And when you do that, you’re building an organization that has so many different types of racing, that there’s so much you can learn from each side of it that can help each other.”

Being the son of racing legend and F1 World Champion Mario Andretti means young Michael was introduced to the sport at the highest level early on: “When I was a teenager, my dad was mostly in Formula 1, so I got to go to a lot of races outside the US and stuff.

“And obviously, you see when you get onto the Formula 1, how big it is and how different it is from the racing over here. I’d be basically a fly on the wall in every meeting that’s going on. In the end, I think helped me a lot when I really started doing it myself because I understand more how things work.

“I think Dad really started the interest in Formula 1 here in the US. If we could ever get there, you’re literally, there’s nowhere else to go. That’s the highest you can go. And so, you know, it’s probably been now, probably six years or so that we’ve been pushing to figure out a way to get involved.”

Andretti: Haas can’t build their own car, they’re mini-Ferraris

(L to R): Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Ferrari Test and Reserve Driver with Gene Haas (USA) Haas Automotion President; Joe Custer (USA) Stewart Haas Racing Vice President; and Guenther Steiner (ITA) Haas F1 Team Prinicipal.09.05.2015. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Qualifying Day.- www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

The timing of Andretti Global’s application to join the F1 paddock has coincided with the huge Netflix ‘Drive to Survive’ inspired boom in the USA. This year the country hosted three Grand Prix weekends. The one in Las Vegas was arguably the most hyped and watched three-day sporting event in history.

While Haas is American-owned, but find an American other than owner Gene Haas in that team and win a prize! They are a quasi-Italian team with non-US drivers with star-bangled banner colours and livery to make out they’re full-blooded cowboys. They ain’t.

“They have no infrastructure,” explained Andretti of the Haas F1 effort. “They can’t build their own car. They’re mini-Ferraris because they just buy everything as much as they can from Ferrari and they even have Ferrari engineers. Getting cars on the track is probably the easiest part. We gotta build our own car.”

Andretti will be the American real deal and he knows the value it would bring: “The opportunities here are huge for F1, and I think that’s a big reason why F1 has grown here in the US. We feel like, you know, with what they’re doing now is huge. But I think there’s so much more growth still here in the US and we feel like we can help grow it.”

This brought back memories of Michael’s stint as an F1 driver for McLaren, teammate to the late Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna, he did 13 Grands Prix in 1991 for the team before calling it quits and taking a hit in terms of reputation as a driver.

Andretti: Doing F1 in 1991, I learned a lot about myself and I grew up a lot


Looking back on his F1 foray as a driver: “I guess people can say: Oh he’s got some unfinished business there. But it was not a good time in my career. There’s a long story behind why it wasn’t successful and things like that. I was glad I had the experience, even though my career took a hit at the time.

“I learned a lot about myself and I think I grew up a lot, sometimes it’s the toughest moments in your life are the ones that are probably the most important ’cause you learn from ’em and you make yourself better,” he explained.

Now, exactly 30 years later and Andretti is back, to open hostility from F1 teams: “I knew there would be some resistance, but I didn’t really expect as much as it is. I always like thinking outside the box. I hate the people who can only think in the box.  I hate hearing: No. Because there’s always a way to do something. Just get creative with your thinking.

“We gotta realize what we’re getting into. We’re getting into a lot of politics and things like that. It’s just the way it is and we’ll just deal with it. I didn’t think it would be this hard to get in, but we’ll prove our weight to get in.

“In IndyCar you buy the car and you’re in the ballpark right away. Then in F1 you’re literally building a car from scratch. We feel that adding more cars, I think is only gonna help the sport. Yeah, it’s gonna take a piece of their pie, of prize money and things. But we feel like we can bring more to it than what we’re gonna take out of the pie.”

A true American F1 team in the making


The goal is simple for Andretti: “Having a true American team, you have an American driver, a car that’s built here in the US and you have an American engine built powering it. I think that’s gonna create a ton of interest for the US.”

With the F1 cost cap in place, with the aim to level the lopsided playing field, new teams have a chance but it will still be a huge challenge, as Andretti explained: “You knew you were never gonna compete with the Ferraris and the Mercedes, you know, as long as they could outspend everybody.

“But when they started talking about cost controls and cost caps, that’s when it really caught our eye. They were making it more of an even playing ground,” ventured Andretti.

As for his under-construction F1 team, Michael added: “I’m making our team stronger. With our brand, it’s been around for so long. Dad [Mario] built an amazing story and now I’ve been able to carry it on, through my driving and now with the team.

“We have a lot of pride in our brand and we cannot ever do anything to tarnish it. So we do everything to protect it. And the most important thing is we need to be competitive, so we try to put ourselves in those situations.

“We feel like we have a fantastic plan. We have GM and Cadillac behind it, which is huge. I think we have all the ingredients to be a competitive team one day, and hopefully, we can come to terms with F1 to be able to be there,” added Andretti.

Big Question: What can stop Andretti Global getting on the F1 grid?

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