It is one thing to be told ‘no’ to a dream project that you have poured hundreds of hours in and many, many more hundreds of dollars, but it is another thing to have that rejection be so brutal.
F1 has long been the target of the American Andretti family as they looked to move into the most famous motor racing series and you cannot accuse them for half-arsing it.
Many hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent adding what they hoped would be the home of their F1 operation in Indiana. Senior staff had been hired, a model had been built and tested in Toyota’s wind tunnel. They even managed to get one of the autosport world’s giants General Motors on their side.
And yet all of this was not enough.
F1’s official announcement was not a simple no to the Andretti bid, the sole one to make it through the FIA procedure last year, but was a systematic dismissal of everything they championed.
Andretti’s argument had long been they would add value to the grid; F1’s official view is that the relationship would be the other way around.
Andretti promised to be a competitive outfit and not just an also-ran; F1’s official view is that they could not achieve that.
Even the promise of GM as a power unit supplier in 2028 was not enough to open the locked door onto the F1 grid.
In almost every conceivable way, Formula 1 has wholeheartedly rejected Andretti and even if the door was left slightly ajar, it will still feel as if it has smacked them in the face.
Anyone who was aware of the situation was aware of the uphill battle Andretti faced.
F1 has never been keen on adding an 11th team and even Andretti’s F1 allies such as McLaren boss Zak Brown had their reservations.
It does of course come down to money. For the 10 existing teams, they were concerned their margins would be lower should there be another mouth to feed and for FOM, they were concerned about p*ssing off the teams that have made them a multi billion-dollar company.
The three months that had passed between the FIA’s approval and today had led some quarters to believe the bid was progressing well. The reality on display now is that Formula 1 was crossing every T and dotting every I of its extensive review.
In their statement, F1 listed the review process which would consider the competitiveness of Andretti, their need for a power unit supplier, the potential benefits of fan growth and consideration of Andretti’s financial stability amongst criteria. In almost every area, Andretti was found wanting.
In their conclusions, the commercially minded F1 said in their view the most realistic way of providing value would be by being competitive. They saw no evidence that made them believe Andretti would be competitive.
They raised doubts about Andretti being supplied by another PU manufacturer in the interim period before GM arrived.
They recognised Andretti may bring some fan growth but argued it would be more beneficial in the other direction.
They said an 11th team would place an “operational burden” on race promoters and incur those costs while impacting the room the 10 teams currently enjoy at any given circuit.
They even questioned whether Andretti were aware of the size of the task given Andretti’s desire to join in 2025 and essentially build two different cars in the same amount of years.
One final nugget from the statement was the revelation that Andretti were informed of the findings in December and offered a meeting, yet declined to turn up. Given the brutal nature of the findings, it is understandable why.
The nature of the findings was so damning, so brutal, that you could even take it as a warning for any future team hoping to get on the grid.
Ever since Andretti has emerged as a potential candidate, F1 has often been portrayed as the bad guy and after months of waiting, they have unequivocally laid down the law.
Andretti will walk away bruised and battered and it is hard to see how they ever come back from this.