Andretti took a big step forward in their journey to F1 this week but who stands to win and lose should their bid become successful?
After months of speculation, the FIA confirmed that Andretti were the sole applicant to receive the seal of approval in terms of adding a new team to the grid.
But that is just stage one of the process with the harder task of covering Formula One Management (FOM) that a deal is in their best interest as well.
Should Andretti clear that hurdle, their arrival on the grid will be a matter of when not if so who stands to win and lose if the American racing family gets a spot?
The US audience
Aside from Andretti themselves, one of the biggest winners would be the US audience. Formula 1 has been upfront about its desire to tame the American audience and with three races in the country this year, ground has clearly been made.
But of late it seems F1’s momentum Stateside has halted somewhat. With sky-high prices at not just the Las Vegas Grand Prix as well as a lack of American representation on the grid, the US audience is beginning to feel like the sport is interested in their money, not so much their talent.
Of the prominent Americans involved in the sport, Logan Sargeant and Zak Brown are the standouts but while one has become a successful CEO, he is doing it at a distinctly British team. Sargeant meanwhile has not exactly set the world alight and having left the country early on, even he admits he is not a household name just yet.
And for a country like the US, that can be a problem as arguably there is no audience in the world that loves a home hero as much as America does. While the European view of the sport tends to see Brits support Ferrari, French people support Mercedes and Germans support McLaren, the US often wants something they can call their own.
In Andretti, they have that and then some. The Indianapolis residents are one of America’s biggest racing families and with them on the grid, that US market may grow even bigger.
Having come so close to making his way into F1 last year, Colton Herta may have wondered if he missed his opportunity.
The lack of a super licence cost him an AlphaTauri seat, eventually filled by Nyck de Vries, but should Andretti get a spot then Herta is at the top of their wanted list.
He already drives for their IndyCar outfit and a contract extension sealed last year through to 2027 stated he was only signed to Andretti Autosport, not which series he would be racing in.
Andretti have made it clear they want an American in their car and Herta is the front-runner.
All Formula 1 fans
Away from the US fans, all Formula 1 fans look set to benefit depending on what Andretti bring to the table. It has been 14 years since a team not called Red Bull or Mercedes won the Constructors’ title and 25 years since it left Motorsport Valley in England.
If Andretti come to be a serious challenger, then it will add another level of excitement the sport desperately needs right now. A non-European team has also never won the World Championship meaning it would be a historic feat if Andretti can pull it off.
When rumours of Andretti’s bid began to take shape, it was soon reported that an initial engine deal had been struck with Renault.
Michael Andretti reportedly met with Renault’s CEO Luca de Meo to discuss such an arrangement but there has been plenty of water under the bridge since then.
For a start, Renault have found their power unit down on the existing suppliers bringing into question whether Andretti would want to get off on the wrong foot. Of course, the earliest likely entry for Andretti would be 2025 meaning the French supplier has plenty of time to iron out the kinks with the other manufacturers seemingly open to them doing so.
So should Andretti decide to stick with Renault then it would be not only a welcome boost of money but also reassurance given they are the only PU supplier who currently supply just one team, their own.
Andretti have become somewhat of a poster boy for a battle between the sports’ two loudest voices – the FIA and FOM.
The FIA, who govern the sporting regulations, ruffled the feathers of their FOM counterparts earlier this year when president Mohammed Ben Sulayem suggested it was they who had the final say over whether a new team can join or not and also whether the sport itself can be sold.
Those claims were swiftly rejected by FOM, resulting in Ben Sulayem taking a step away from F1, but it has always been the FIA who have been more open to teams joining the grid.
If Andretti were to make it in, it could be seen as a big win in the battle between the FIA and FOM that has gone on pretty much since the two organisations came into existence.
The existing Formula 1 teams
It is no secret just why the existing teams have been so reluctant to see an 11th competitor added to the grid – money. Whether it was Andretti or any other of the applicants, the 10 current teams did not want to see their prize money reduced.
As it works now, teams receive a percentage of the prize pot as per where they finished in the Constructors’ Championship. Red Bull, having taken home their sixth title this season, will get around 14% while the team that finishes last will be given closer to 6%.
Of course with another mouth to feed, everyone’s portion will get that little bit smaller, and when we are talking about many millions of dollars, that can add up.
The existing team’s argument, led by Mercedes’ CEO Toto Wolff, has been the anti-dilution fee, which is currently priced at $200 million, is no longer fair value having been set in 2020 and that a new competitor would need to bring value of their own.
Andretti’s argument is that with General Motors behind them, they will bring more money than they take out but that will take at least a few years to be true.
The top competitors
While the existing teams have their financial concerns, there is also a sporting element that comes into play. Considering how many hoops Andretti have had to jump through just to get this far, it is clear they are not aiming to be just another runner.
This could be bad news for the likes of Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari who currently stand as the only constructors seemingly capable of winning the title. Andretti’s project will take a few years to get off the ground and even longer to build a race-winning car but with the arrival of Audi as well, the sport’s biggest teams may not want to see another competitive car up ahead of them.
Since their arrival in 2016, Haas have billed themselves as America’s racing team but that feeling is not mutual. Although their main HQ is in Kannapolis, North Carolina, their car is built in the UK and Italy with much of the team’s staff being based in Europe.
Given how many races are in the continent, this logistically makes sense but with no American drivers as well, US fans have been reluctant to call Haas one of their own.
Andretti have made a promise to race out of the US with only satellite bases in Europe which means they could steal a portion of the audience that currently root for Guenther Steiner’s team.