Jacques Villeneuve sends clear warning to GM-backed Andretti over F1 ambitions

Oliver Harden
Jacques Villeneuve looks concerned with a prominent Andretti logo alongside him

Jacques Villeneuve is torn on Andretti's F1 rejection

Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 World Champion, has warned Andretti that having “big money behind them” is no guarantee that the team will succeed in F1 if granted an entry.

Andretti have been seeking an F1 admission for some time and last year linked up with General Motors brand Cadillac in a renewed attempt to gain an entry.

Jacques Villeneuve torn on Andretti F1 rejection

While Andretti’s proposal was accepted by F1’s governing body the FIA last October, it was rejected by the sport’s commercial rights holder in January, with Formula 1 claiming the team would not bring sufficient value to the grid.

Nevertheless, Andretti are pressing ahead with their plans and last week opened a new facility at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix.

Team owner Michael Andretti went on to make a series of bold pronouncements, revealing that work on a General Motors/Cadillac engine for 2028 is already underway and committing to the team having a presence in F1’s direct feeder categories, F2 and F3.

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Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Villeneuve was torn on the subject of Andretti’s failed application, claiming Formula One Management must have made the decision for a reason.

Asked if F1 was right to reject Andretti, he said: “It depends.

“As a fan, you would want them in. But all we can say is that [FOM] had information we didn’t have on how the team was going to be built.

“We don’t know. We only know what we see in the media and what we see in the media today is very dangerous because anyone with an account online can be a journalist and say whatever and suddenly, it’s true.

“So it’s very difficult to start making judgments based on that, we don’t have all the info.

“But obviously it’s a big racing company, they have cars everywhere, they have big money behind them.

“Does that make them a potential winning team in F1? No. A potential, yes, but who knows.

“A lot of people have tried and broken their teeth. I built a team with Craig Pollock, BAR, which today has become Mercedes.

“It’s not easy. It really is not easy even with the right people on board. So obviously they had some knowledge that we didn’t, if not, they would have been in.”

Villeneuve’s latest comments come after he questioned Audi’s motive behind their 2026 F1 entry with the existing Sauber team, suggesting the project could go in the same direction as the Alpine-Renault team, who are yet to score a point so far this season.

He said: “They’re joining with a team that hasn’t been any good for so many years. And you just can’t invent know-how. It’s something that you build over time.

“You can see it with Williams. They stay kind of good for a while, but you pay the price of pay drivers, of all that, you pay it late. And now the team has been rebuilding, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It also takes time. So, it won’t happen overnight.

“And then how are they joining? Are they joining the same way Renault/Alpine joined just to be part of F1 and make some image or to actually be racers and try and go out and win? That we don’t know.

“What’s dangerous with constructors when they come in is they can easily in five minutes decide, ‘OK, we’re gone, bye’ and they leave and they don’t care.

“They’re great for the sport, but they’re also very dangerous in that respect, whereas a team like Williams cannot leave.

“It exists with and because of F1. What does Williams do if they stop F1? Nothing.

“So, you’re secure in the knowledge that they will find a way to persevere to get better, because it’s their bread and butter.”

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