With Formula 1 poised to hold its historic third Grand Prix in a single season in the United States next weekend at Las Vegas, American auto manufacturer General Motors has squashed any speculation that it would abandon its partnership with Andretti Global for a potential all-American team to join the F1 grid.
Earlier this year, Andretti Global and GM announced a partnership to create an 11th team to join Formula 1 racing under the Cadillac brand in response to the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) opening the bidding process for potential new teams. The FIA received seven bids but approved only the Andretti Global entry. While the FIA is the sport's international governing body, its approval of the Andretti bid isn't binding. Liberty Media, the United States-based commercial rights holder to F1 holds the ultimate key to unlocking any new entries to Formula 1.
Additionally, most of the existing 10 teams competing in the F1 championship have vigorously protested the addition of Andretti Global, or any other team for that matter, under the existing framework that requires new teams to pay $200 million to join F1. Citing financial ramifications of spreading the F1 competition wealth 11 ways instead of 10, F1 team principals have made a variety of proposals, including raising the entry fee to $600 million or nixing the addition of an 11th team altogether in favor of requiring any new F1 participants to buy an existing team. Some have even proposed behind closed doors that the sport welcome GM's participation while denying the Andretti bid.
Williams Racing's team principal, James Vowles, has gone on record as saying that he would welcome having Cadillac badged engines powering his team's cars in the future.
"I welcome GM open armed... and I hope to forge a relationship with them should things not work out. They are an incredible entity that I think will make the sport better," Vowles told the Associated Press while denying that he is actively seeking to partner with GM. "No. My point is more that an organization, an OEM like GM, absolutely would be welcome in our sport. We would welcome them at this stage. But they're clearly linked to Andretti - it's not a question of that and we're not in talks with them at the moment."
And earlier this week, GM president, Mark Reuss, doubled down on its commitment to joining F1 with Andretti Global.
"GM is committed to partnering with Andretti to race in F1," he says. "The collaboration between Andretti-Cadillac brings together two unique entities built for racing, both with long pedigrees of success in motorsport globally."
As Formula 1 cars take to the Strip for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, GM has sent senior executives to the race lobby Liberty Media and team principals for support of the Andretti Global/Cadillac entry. Whether they will be successful remains to be seen but as Vowles pointed out, the participation of an auto manufacturer like GM can only add to the sport. The same question remains, however, can the addition of Andretti-Cadillac offset existing team fears of any potential financial loss?
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