Michael Andretti says ‘every F1 team’ has rejected sale talks

FIA to announce successful F1 entry applications by end of July.
  • FIA decision on F1 entrants expected at the end of this month
  • Ben Sulayem hints that grid expansion is coming

Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti has revealed “every F1 team” has rejected talks over a potential sale.

At the start of this year, Andretti announced their intention to join the Formula One grid, backed by US automotive giant General Motors through its Cadillac brand.

What should have been an irresistible offer for Formula One and Liberty Media has turned into months of media slanging matches between the historic US racing team and existing Formula One bosses.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has been one of the more outspoken critics of the potential move, with Andretti calling out the collective greed of Formula One in response to the lukewarm reception of their potential entry.

Last week, Wolff said that any potential entrant should “buy a team” in order to retain the current size of the grid, but Andretti has exhausted all options.

“We’ve tried. Nobody’s interested,” he told media at Extreme E’s Island X-Prix, as reported by motorsport website RaceFans.

“We’ve been to every single team. They keep saying ‘well, buy a team’, and nobody wants to sell. You go there, and they’re not even interested in talking. I’ve been there, done that, and not happy.”

Andretti are one of a number of teams to express interest in joining the Formula One grid, with the likes of junior outfit Hitech Grand Prix, the Asia-based LKY Sunz team and the Formula Equal project all vying for a spot.

The announcement on successful applications is expected at the end of this month, but International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has given an early hint that expansion could be coming.

“People have to understand we are here to promote motorsport and we are here to be fair. The expressions of interest process is very robust and there is no circumstance where we can deny any teams if they fulfill the criteria to enter,” Ben Sulayem told AP News.

“So imagine me saying no to someone like [General Motors]? We have in the regulations that we can go up to 12 teams. I’m not breaking [rules]. But do we allow anyone to enter? No. But how on earth can we refuse GM? I mean, where’s the common sense in this? GM is a heavyweight and when they come with Andretti, that’s good for all of us.”

BlackBook says…

Andretti have already committed to building a US$200 million global racing headquarters in Indiana, due to be operational by 2025, so the infrastructure will be in place if their application is approved.

But, their commitment to Formula One has never been in doubt. The question is whether the existing Formula One teams can look beyond their bottom lines for the benefit of the series as a whole.

Even if the FIA was to approve one or more future entries to Formula One, it would still require approval from the grid. Any announcement will be far from final, and this could drag on behind the scenes for a while as the existing teams fight to protect Formula One’s most important commodity: money.

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