Andretti Global, the team formerly known as Andretti Autosport, has cleared one hurdle in its bid to join the Formula 1 Series, having secured approval from the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the international motorsport governing body that sanctions Formula 1.
"The FIA is obliged to approve applications that comply with the Expressions of Interests application requirements, and we have adhered to that procedure in deciding that Andretti Formula Racing LLC's application would proceed to the next stage of the application process," Ben Sulayem, president of the FIA said in announcing the decision. "Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfills the selection criteria that was set in all material respects. I congratulate Michael Andretti and his team on a thorough submission."
Andretti Global's approval by the FIA is the latest episode in the team's three-year saga to join the pinnacle of international motorsport, which has proved to be almost as elusive as a second Indy 500 victory for the legendary racing family, which includes Mario, Michael and Marco Andretti. Owned by 1991 IndyCar champion, Michael, the team saw its bid to purchase an existing F1 team fall short. In January, the FIA launched an application process to potentially expand the F1 grid in 2025, 2026 (when new engine regulations become enacted) or 2027. Andretti Global, which owns teams in IndyCar, Indy NXT, Extreme E, Formula E, IMSA, Mexico's Super Copa and Australian Supercars, submitted its bid the same month, announcing a partnership with General Motors to supply Cadillac-badged engines. With the FIA's approval, Andretti Global comes one step closer to growing American presence in F1 racing.
"We appreciate the FIA's rigorous, transparent and complete evaluation process and are incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to compete in such a historic and prestigious championship," Michael says in a statement responding to the FIA's approval. "The formation of this distinctly American team is an important moment of pride for all our employees and fans. We feel strongly that Andretti Cadillac's deep racing competencies and the technological advancements that come from racing will benefit our customers while heightening enthusiasm for F1, globally."
While Andretti Global's hopes to join F1 has been green-lighted by the sport's governing body, it may still receive a black flag. The bid must now gain the approval of Liberty Media, the United States-based commercial rights holder to F1, and a $200 million entrance fee. Additionally, many of the 10 teams currently competing in the F1 championship and expressed opposition to F1 grid expansion because of its potential dilution of their earning power, which will have to be shared with more teams. While the individual teams hold no voting power to approve future teams' access to the championship, their opinions, especially those of Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, can hold tremendous influence on Liberty Media's decision to accept, or more likely reject, Andretti Global's F1 aspirations.
"We note the FIA's conclusions in relation to the first and second phases of their process and will now conduct our own assessment of the merits of the remaining application," F1 stated in response to the FIA's approval of Andretti Global.
While the value of F1 has undoubtedly soared in recent years and has gained more notice than ever, thanks in part to Netflix's series "Drive to Survive," many of the teams' opposition to expanding the grid seems to be a little short-sighted. Driven by F1's rising popularity, the sport will see three races in the U.S. this year in Florida, Texas and the much-anticipated Las Vegas. Additionally, traditional grands prix at Canada and Mexico make for five North American races on the 2023 F1 calendar. Adding another team, especially one with the name recognition and racing heritage of Andretti behind it, could add more boost to F1's popularity. Rejecting the Andretti bid and maintaining the status quo could blow the series' ultimate pace faster than a DRS malfunction and expose the teams and their principles as greedy money fiends fearful of competition. The choice is yours, F1.]
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