Michael-Andretti-gm general motors

Editor’s Desk: Red Flags in wake of Andretti F1 bid rejection

Michael-Andretti-gm general motors

The Andretti Cadillac Formula 1 bid has been rejected by Formula One Management, a move that sent shockwaves in the sport’s community in a wake-up call for the off-season, which is now very much on!

With the FIA green-lighting the Andretti Cadillac bid, the final hurdle of going through negotiations with Formula One Management (FOM) should have been cleared as well, naturally subject to compromises accepted by all stakeholders – Andretti Cadillac, the ten F1 Teams, and FOM.

But that was not the case and on Wednesday, FOM dropped a bombshell with a statement revealing they have rejected Andretti Cadillac’s F1 bid.

And while we all know the reasons the applicant for an 11th F1 team has been snubbed are money-related and basically because all other existing teams do not want to play nice and share the pie, the FOM statement focused on reasons such as added value, growth, competitiveness, performance… you name it.

So let’s be naïve and believe these are the reasons behind the rejection, but even doing so and reading through the comprehensive FOM statement, several Red Flags emerge.

And while you may feel that all the Red Flags in the statement are caused by FOM, the first one was caused by Andretti.

In point 4 of the “Introduction” of the statement, FOM revealed: “Having had the opportunity to consider the Applicant’s responses together with our own deliberations, we subsequently wrote to the Applicant on 12 December 2023 extending an invitation to an in-person meeting at our offices in order for the Applicant to present its application, but the Applicant did not take us up on this offer.”

Why haven’t Andretti Cadillac attended the in-person meeting proposed by FOM. Realistically, that meeting wouldn’t have changed the decision, but why give the opponents a chance to take a dig at them?

FOM-related Red Flags from the Andretti Cadillac rejection statement

Maffei: Unclear what value an 11th F1 team would add

In point 7 of the “Review Process” section, FOM said: “Our assessment did not involve any consultation with the current F1 teams. However, in considering the best interests of the Championship we took account of the impact of the entry of an 11th team on all commercial stakeholders in the Championship.”

The fact that FOM felt they had to mention that they did not consult with other F1 teams while assessing Andretti Cadillac’s bid is a problem on its own. Why would the teams have a say? Isn’t this an FIA/FOM-governed process?

And just to make matters more interesting, FOM seemed to contradict their statement by saying in point 6.d of the “Review Process” section that one of the key areas of review was:

“consultation with key stakeholders to understand their view of the value that the Applicant would bring;”

So how do you consult “key stakeholders” without consulting the F1 teams? Are they not considered “Key Stakeholders” by FOM? If that is the case F1 teams should be worried.

Moving on, and going into the “General” section, particularly point 9, FOM said: “Any 11th team should show that its participation and involvement would bring a benefit to the Championship. The most significant way in which a new entrant would bring value is by being competitive, in particular by competing for podiums and race wins. This would materially increase fan engagement and would also increase the value of the Championship in the eyes of key stakeholders and sources of revenue such as broadcasters and race promoters.”

So now, any new entity looking to join F1 has to assure before even they start operating that they will be competitive and fight for wins and podiums from the get-go?

Was that the case when HRT, Virgin/Marussia/Manor, and Lotus/Caterham were accepted as new F1 teams back in 2010? Clearly not, as they were horrible and folded only a few years after their debut.

Was Haas asked to be competitive when they joined F1 in 2016, or did the fact they were taking so many parts from Ferrari assure they would be decent?

They were competitive somehow, and all teams complained about their Ferrari connection, but since their launch, Haas have yet to take a podium, let alone win a race…

That is ridiculous and is like the case of a new graduate looking for his first job, with recruiters asking him to have experience. How would a fresh grad build experience if he doesn’t get that first job?

Novice power unit supplier and constructor?

andretti_cadillac_instagram_andrettiautosport brundle f1

Also in the “General” section, point 10: “The Application contemplates an association with General Motors (GM) that does not initially include a PU supply, with an ambition for a full partnership with GM as a PU supplier in due course, but this will not be the case for some years. Having a GM PU supply attached to the Application at the outset would have enhanced its credibility, though a novice constructor in partnership with a new entrant PU supplier would also have a significant challenge to overcome. Most of the attempts to establish a new constructor in the last several decades have not been successful.”

So if General Motors are considered as novice power unit supplier joining forces with a novice constructor – Andretti – what does that make Audi?

Is Audi a seasoned F1 power unit supplier? Sauber has a long history in F1, but when was the last time they produced a competitive F1 car? Audi and Sauber are joining forces.

Moreover, how does that come in line with F1’s push to attract new manufacturers?

Again the “General” section point 11: “2025 will be the last year of the current regulatory cycle and 2026 will be the first year of the subsequent cycle, for which an entirely different car to the previous cycle will be required. 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. 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.”

While it makes sense that having a car for 2025 and then another for 2026 under a totally different set of regulations is a challenge for Andretti Cadillac… That is their problem to be honest. And if that was the case, then why doesn’t FOM give them the approval to join in 2026. I think that would have been a decent compromise Andretti Cadillac would be happy to accept.

As for the problem of having an interim power unit supplier before GM comes in 2028 and that being a “risk” to the supplier’s intellectual property and know-how… Really?

Then how are Honda continuing their collaboration with Red Bull Racing who are designing their own power unit for 2026 and bringing Ford on board?

How are Mercedes sure their intellectual property is safe with Aston Martin who will switch to Honda power in 2026?

GM not welcome unless their success is assured?

General Motors register as Formula 1 power unit supplier

And as if all this wasn’t enough, FOM went on dissing GM, also in the “General” section point 13: “Coming to the sport as a new PU manufacturer is also a huge challenge, with which major automotive manufacturers have struggled in the past, and one which can take a manufacturer a number of years of significant investment in order to become competitive. GM have the resource and credibility to be more than capable of attempting this challenge, but success is not assured.”

FOM say GM’s success as a power unit supplier is not assured, so why were they accepted as one for 2028? Did Honda ensure its success when it joined McLaren in 2015 and prematurely? We all saw how that turned out.

And by the way, Renault has failed to deliver a decent hybrid power unit since 2014. What’s FOM’s take on that one?

Other than Mercedes, no other power unit supplier delivered a respectable unit in the first year of the regulations, and we all know how Ferrari got their act together… Bernie may be old but his memory is still sharp…

And as a final word on the “added value” thing, how are Williams, Haas, Sauber/Stake, and AlphaTauri – sorry Visa Cash App RB – adding value now?

And by the way, if the sport’s governing body, the FIA saw Andretti Cadillac as fit to join F1, weren’t all these factors considered in their evaluation?

It was always about the money and the dark side of F1 winning. FOM was never going to approve Andretti Cadillac’s bid whether they reviewed their application or not.

The decision was taken long before that and it was delivered in this Red Flag-marred statement.