Michael Andretti and his Cadillac-backed F1 team have been rejected by Formula 1 – but what’s next for the son of America’s most recent World Champion?
Right now, it’s a bit too early to predict exactly how Andretti and his General Motors ties will react to the news of rejection, and it’s also too early to predict just how the cohort will proceed.
However, at this early stage, there are four big paths that Andretti could pursue when it comes to its potential future approach to Formula 1 specifically, and motorsport as a whole: Andretti could pursue legal action, chase the ever-moving F1 entry goalposts, buy out a different team, or abandon Formula 1 in favor of a more welcoming — and lucrative — endeavor.
As it currently stands, the relationship between Andretti and the FOM seems tense. In its statement, F1 says that it issued a letter of invitation for an in-person meeting with Michael Andretti, where the goal was to discuss Andretti Global’s proposal in greater depth. Andretti, however, did not take F1 up on his offer.
Further, F1’s statements that Andretti would not necessarily be competitive, nor would it bring value to the championship as a Renault team, hint at some particularly sore touch points that, at first glance, seem to be based more on opinion than on quantifiable fact. There’s tension on both sides.
While it would very likely not end up well for his team’s application, Michael Andretti could attempt to take the FOM to court to challenge its claims.
Admittedly, this would likely irreparably harm Andretti’s chances at being taken seriously as an F1 team; should Andretti pursue legal action, it would likely be with the understanding that it would still not be participating in the World Championship.
In this instance, Andretti would be challenging F1’s tight-knit status quo with the intention of clarifying processes or more easily opening the door for other teams in the future.
Move the goalposts
In its statement, Formula One Management highlighted one critical flaw in Andretti Global’s proposal: The team wanted to enter in 2025 with Renault power units, one year before a regulatory overhaul, with the promise that it would bring in Cadillac as a power unit manufacturer in 2028.
F1’s statement that it would welcome Cadillac as a power unit constructor but not Andretti as a team suggests that what the series actually values is better commercial partners and opportunities, as opposed to merely a team.
In what is perhaps the most likely option for Andretti, the American outfit can simply wait to re-apply in 2028, when a partnership with Cadillac could serve as Andretti’s critical bargaining chip.
Of course, that would hinge on several factors: a continued American interest in F1, the reopening of an expression of interest for teams, Cadillac’s insistence that it work only with Andretti as opposed to any currently existing teams, and Andretti’s continued desire to invest in the sport that rejected it.
This option does come with benefits. If Andretti and Cadillac are dedicated to working together on this F1 project, then having several more years to develop a far more comprehensive and competitive game plan could be enough to encourage F1 and the FOM to take note.
Buying out a team
Introducing a completely new, from-scratch Formula 1 team is a rarity. On the 2024 grid, only Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams can be said to be “original” teams — ones that can trace their roots directly back to their pseudonymous founding.
All seven of the others are effectively rebranded versions of a team that had previously existed but whose assets were bought out by a different group. Even Haas capitalized on the defunct Manor team in securing a UK factory, and on a relationship with Ferrari.
Using those examples as inspiration, Andretti could attempt to buy into a currently existing team in the hopes of one day being able to take it over. The primary concern is that few teams seem willing to sell.
Many fans have pointed to Haas as a “good” option for an Andretti buy-out; the team is already ‘American,’ and it’s been struggling for years.
However, Andretti has reportedly attempted to buy Haas for several years; Michael Andretti has suggested that Gene Haas is simply uninterested in selling his team — at least to the Andrettis. If a buy-out was going to happen, it very likely would have happened already.
Abandoning F1 altogether?
Andretti Global is already an international sporting organization with successful entries in Formula E, Extreme E, IndyCar, and IMSA; it is entirely likely that Michael Andretti and other key team members may simply decide to shelve their F1 ambitions for the foreseeable future.
Of course, abandoning the project after investing money in developing a workable action plan for the coming years seems highly unlikely – unless Andretti and Cadillac are able to find a way to sell their assets to interested parties and recoup some of the investment costs. Even then, both Andretti and Cadillac would be taking a great loss.
However, the bad blood between Andretti and the FOM could be a sign that a workable relationship simply is not in the cards, not until sweeping management changes.
On that premise alone, it would not be a complete shock to see Andretti Global step back from F1 entirely in order to reinvest itself in racing championships more willing to work with the iconic family name.