Andretti block conspiracy theory torn apart as 11th F1 team battle wages on

Oliver Harden
Michael Andretti smiles during a visit to the F1 paddock at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix

Michael Andretti smiles during a visit to the F1 paddock at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown has rejected the conspiracy theory that an anti-American bias is behind F1’s resistance to the proposed Andretti team.

Andretti have been seeking an F1 entry for some time, with the team’s application receiving the approval of governing body the FIA last autumn.

Zak Brown rejects Andretti F1 conspiracy theory

However, the American outfit suffered a bitter blow in January when Formula 1’s commercial rights holders Liberty Media officially rejected Andretti’s proposal, claiming the team would not add significant value to the sport in a cutting 1,434-word statement.

Despite the rejection, Andretti have pressed on with plans to arrive on the grid, recently opening a new team facility at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix, and announcing the arrival of technical guru Pat Symonds in a major coup from Formula 1.

Brown, of Los Angeles, California, is one of the few existing F1 team bosses to have offered support to Andretti’s plans.

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And with significant American influence in modern F1 – including the presence of three US-based races in Texas, Miami and Las Vegas on the calendar, more than any other nation – the McLaren boss has dismissed the notion that the refusal to accept Andretti is fuelled by an anti-US agenda.

He told ESPN: “I don’t think there’s an anti-American culture within Formula 1 at all.

“When you look at the sport, you’ve got European manufacturers, you’ve got Ford from North America, you’ve got Honda from Japan, so the sport is extremely global.

“I’ve never come across any favouritism or negativity towards any region of the world. The whole world participates in Formula 1.

“As it relates to America, Liberty is American; we’ve gone from one race to three races in America, including the single largest investment Formula 1 has ever made in anything in Vegas.

“You have Ford, who have recently entered the sport. You have myself running one of the top teams in the sport.

“You have Netflix, which has been fantastic for the sport globally but specifically North America. And now on the tail end of that we have Brad Pitt, who’s going to do a global movie that is U.S.-based, which will do wonders for the sport.

“I think what Liberty has done for the sport is amazing. If you look at what we needed to do for the sport, we needed cost controls; we have it now, and it’s producing the closest grid in the history of Formula 1.”

He added: “I’m sympathetic to the frustrations [of Andretti], but the ‘Formula 1 isn’t welcoming America’ [argument]?

“I think it’s unfortunate that the root of the issue [has moved away from being] between Andretti and Formula 1 and adding value.”

In an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com in April, 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti, the father of team owner Michael, expressed renewed hope that a resolution will be found to allow Andretti to take up their place on the F1 starting grid.

He explained: “On all fronts, everything is progressing. We’ve finally even officially opened up a facility in Silverstone.

“I am beginning to feel optimistic because we’re doing a lot of diligent work. We’ll just have to come to some conclusion, hopefully soon, but everything is put in front of us and we’re putting in front of whatever is potentially required.

“We’re working feverishly towards satisfying every aspect of it. From there we just keep our fingers crossed.

“We’re working at pace in every aspect that we can to be able to advance the cause because, all along, we’d like to show how serious we are about the project and not just talk but do.

“We have a fair amount of team already together here, and we have some interesting individuals waiting for us to get the 100 per cent green light from Formula 1.

“We’re just trying to show that everything is the way it should be. General Motors is definitely behind all of this and that’s very important to bring in a manufacturer with us that has never been in F1.

“I think the fact that F1 is exposed so prominently in the United States, I think, should play favourably to have a full US team involved. I’m staying positive, absolutely.”

He added: “We’re talking, and reasoning, and it’s the first time we’ve had proper face-to-face [conversation with Formula 1].

“I have reason to be feeling good.”

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