F1 faces questions from US Congress over Andretti

Twelve members of Congress sign letter raising concerns with 'apparent anti-competitive actions'.
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  • Andretti and General Motors’ joint bid accepted by FIA, but rejected by F1
  • US Congress singles out the Sherman Antitrust Act as key law
  • Liberty Media is US-based, but FOM is registered in UK

Formula One has faced questions from US Congress following the series’ decision to block the prospective entry of Andretti Global.

A letter signed by 12 members of Congress highlighted ‘concerns with apparent anti-competitive actions that could prevent two American companies, Andretti Global and General Motors (GM), from producing and competing in Formula One’.

Cadillac, a division of American motoring giant General Motors, and Andretti – owned by former Formula One driver Michael Andretti, son of 1978 world champion Mario Andretti – saw its bid to enter the series rejected earlier this year.

Following the initial call for expressions of interest, and at the end of a comprehensive application process that decided four prospective teams could proceed, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) concluded Andretti was the only candidate to meet the stringent criteria.

Andretti Formula Racing LLC’s submission was passed on to Formula One Management (FOM) for commercial discussions as part of the next stage of the process.

However, in a lengthy statement released on 31st January, Formula One’s governing body announced Andretti would not be a competitive addition to the grid.

The statement concluded with Formula One stating it does ‘not believe that the applicant has shown that it would add value to the championship’.

While it rejected the Andretti application for 2025, the series indicated the door was not shut on another potential entry bid in the future, depending on how the team’s engine power unit setup was developed.

This has clearly not satisfied Andretti’s ambitions, though. Ahead of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, US Congress has thrown its weight behind the bid.

The letter states: ‘Under the Concorde Agreement, Formula One’s governing document, up to 12 teams can participate. Currently, there are ten teams competing in Formula One races. Previously the FIA launched and led a comprehensive application process with the purpose of allowing one or more prospective teams to join Formula One racing series. Andretti Global, with its partner GM, submitted an application, and after receiving four applications, the FIA approved Andretti Global.

‘Under what authority does FOM proceed to reject admission of Andretti Global? What is the rationale for FOM’s rejection, especially with respect to Andretti Global and its partner GM potentially being the first American-owned and America-built race team?

‘The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 outlaws unreasonable restraints on market competition to produce the best outcome for the American consumer. How does FOM’s denial of Andretti Global and GM, American-owned companies, square with Sherman Act requirements, since the decision will benefit incumbent European racing teams and their foreign automobile manufacturing affiliates?

‘We understand that GM intends to re-introduce its Cadillac brand into the European market, which would support thousands of good-paying American automotive jobs, especially with Formula One’s worldwide audience and its halo effect on its teams and sponsors.

‘How much did GM’s and Andretti’s entrance into racing competition taking a portion of the racing market share and GM’s entry into the European market taking market share each play into the decision to deny admission to the Andretti Global team, given the public outcry of incumbent Formula One teams against a new American competitor?’

BlackBook says…

The Formula One and Andretti saga continues.

Ever since the US-based team’s bid became public knowledge, Andretti Global has made plenty of noise in an attempt to be taken seriously by the series. It began with Michael Andretti publicly courting team principals for signatures at the Miami Grand Prix in 2022, and now US Congress is involved ahead of this year’s race.

Formula One’s decision to reject the bid was controversial, but Andretti Global risks alienating itself before it has even joined with this continued rhetoric.

What’s more, it’s not even clear if US Congress has jurisdiction over the matter. Liberty Media controls Formula One’s commercial rights, but FOM is registered in the UK. As an American company, Liberty Media must adhere to the Sherman Antitrust Law around competition, so the legal ramifications are murky at best.

Of course, Formula One will argue that its statement leaves the door open for Andretti and General Motors to reapply for the 2028 season, which falls after the current teams agree to a new Concorde Agreement with an entry fee higher than the current US$200 million written into the regulations.

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