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Mario Andretti confronts closed-door approach to new F1 teams

Mario Andretti confronts closed-door approach to new F1 teams
© Reuters
Before a crucial discussion with Formula 1 leaders, Mario Andretti disclosed he was "offended" by how the sport justified its decision to prevent the launch of an eleventh team.

Before a crucial discussion with Formula 1 leaders, Mario Andretti disclosed he was "offended" by how the sport justified its decision to prevent the launch of an eleventh team.

Supported robustly by General Motors, the Andretti-Cadillac bid is actually led by the 19878 world champion's son Michael. Their original goal was to establish a new F1 team by as early as 2025.

The project received approval from the FIA; however, postponements by F1's managing entity, Formula One Management—owned by Liberty Media—extended the potential start until 2026.

In the end, Liberty outright rejected the application, advising Andretti that they would need to defer until 2028 when GM could supply a works Cadillac engine for the team.

"I was offended, actually," Mario Andretti shared with the Associated Press, regarding the rationale behind F1's decision, which suggested the Andretti brand had little to contribute to F1 and would face challenges in being competitive.

"I don't think we deserved that, to be honest with you," the 84-year-old remarked. "It's a big investment in the series, and you'd think they'd welcome that. Even the value of the series is more valuable with 11 teams than 10, so I don't know."

"Tell us what is really wrong," Andretti demanded.

While F1 dismissed the Andretti proposal, he noted that Formula One Management then attempted to pair GM and Cadillac with an already established team.

"That's another offensive statement there," Mario Andretti noted. "We're the ones that worked it out, and GM said it over and over - 'Andretti or nothing'. And then they still tried to take it."

"There's an undercurrent there that I don't understand, quite honestly, but if they want blood, well, I'm ready."

Mario also revealed that F1 has consented to meet with the key figures of the hopeful team in the upcoming weeks. This meeting is scheduled to occur on the fringes of the upcoming Miami GP.

"We only had one meeting with them. That's a problem," he mentioned. "We haven't had enough. I think that's why I really welcome our next meeting. You know, let's sit down," he proposed.

Meanwhile, Andretti Global has inaugurated a new F1 facility at Silverstone Park (UK) and is actively testing a scale model in a wind tunnel.

"We're trying to say 'We'll do whatever you ask of us. Now, if you think of something, you tell us'," Andretti stated, emphasizing that his team is prepared to include Formula 2 and Formula 3 squads.

"We're all-in, and I don't know what else to do."

Currently, the unofficial initiative remains set for a 2026 start, although there are concerns that little will evolve concerning F1 and the existing ten teams' genuine motives for resisting expansion.

"It's definitely about the financial side, no question about it," Andretti observed, referring to the manner in which the sport's commercial profits are divided among F1 and its teams.

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