Andretti and General Motors boost as Liberty Media discuss hunt for 11th F1 team

Thomas Maher
Andretti Autosport logo, pictured in 2016.

The logo of Andretti Autosport on their factory.

Liberty Media’s CEO Greg Maffei is eager to see an American manufacturer come to F1, offering renewed hope to the Andretti prospect.

An 11th Formula 1 team entrant is being actively evaluated by the sport’s governing body the FIA and commercial rights holder Liberty Media, with a soft deadline of June 30th set out to let the prospective entrants know whether or not to continue the process of entry.

One of the confirmed prospects is that of Andretti Global, a Michael Andretti-led outfit aiming to add to their existing repertoire of racing series as Andretti compete in IndyCar, IMSA, and Formula E.

But Andretti have met with sustained pushback from both F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and most of the existing teams, leading the Andrettis to add to the legitimacy of their application by securing the backing of American OEM manufacturer General Motors – a huge coup of one of motoring’s ‘Big Three’ that coincided with Red Bull also landing Ford as an engine partner from 2026.

Andretti’s securing of GM is no badging exercise either. Having outlined that they are targeting a 2025 entry and are also working around that deadline, despite having no confirmation of the success of their application, Andretti are believed to have agreed an initial supply deal with Renault until GM-Cadillac are able to come on board as a proper engine manufacturer.

“GM is motivated to be involved in the car and design, the whole process,” GM motorsport executive director Eric Warren said in May.

“It’s not white-labelling an engine. The interaction between Cadillac and Andretti will be throughout the vehicle. Looking beyond 2026, our view is that we want to get racing and make sure we are competitive and then look in 2026 at what makes the most sense.

“We could, of course [construct our own engine]. We can’t by rule because the 2026 power unit manufacturers have been declared, so we would be looking at the earliest in ’27.

“It is something we are looking at. We are looking at power units. Andretti has a power unit partner with which we can get racing quickly.”

Greg Maffei: Having an American OEM would be a positive

Speaking on the Walker Webcast, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei spoke about the ongoing process of trying to onboard an 11th team into Formula 1, and hinted that Andretti’s tie-up with General Motors could work out.

“Ford is invested in the Red Bull engine process and it’s not inconceivable Ford could take a bigger role,” he said, when asked about the prospect of an American entry.

“There was certainly talk that General Motors was interested around the Andretti bid for an 11th team. I think there are reasons to think that that could come about.

“[But] we’ve had other OEMs who could be very interesting as well, just to be clear, Porsche tried very hard to enter with Red Bull.

“BMW used to be in the sport, and left in ’09.

“I think we’re lucky we have so many OEMs now – as many as we’ve ever had – but having more OEMs, particularly an American one, would certainly be a positive.”

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Why 11th team entry is causing ‘controversy’ amongst current teams

Despite the interest in evaluating an 11th team entry, the existing teams are far less eager to have another outfit join the grid. This is as a result of the terms of the current Concorde Agreement, which demands new entrants pay a $200 million ‘anti-dilution’ entry fee.

This ensures the current teams all have an absolute rock-bottom valuation, all of whom benefit from the entry fee as it’s divvied up equally between them as the new team arrives. But while they receive that short-term windfall, an 11th team dilutes the outright prize money fund from which the teams are paid based on their finishing position in the championship.

The current Agreement remains in place until 2025, the year Andretti wish to enter. If they are unsuccessful, it’s likely the entry fee will skyrocket as the existing teams have indicated a desire to increase the fee to $600 million to bring them in line with the valuations of prominent franchises in other sports, such as the NHL.

This is proving a big headache for the FIA and Liberty Media to overcome, as well as the logistical challenge of fitting an 11th team into most of the track’s pitlanes!

“The real problem is the way the structure works today, there are probably four or five garages, paddock areas where that would be difficult to put in an 11th bay,” Maffei said.

“Maybe that’s solvable with money and time. But it’s not something you snap your fingers and solve.”

Unsurprisingly, this won’t be a problem for new circuit builds under Liberty Media, as is the case in Las Vegas, perhaps hinting further at the direction the sport’s commercial rights holders want to head.

“We have accommodated and that will not be a problem with Vegas,” he confirmed.

“The other issue is, is that the 10 teams are splitting the profits that go to the teams, and dividing 11 ways is not something they’re particularly enthused about.

“There is a mechanism where there’s a franchise fee where a new entrant would pay, we put that in place when the new Concorde Agreement [was agreed].

“Frankly, that was a huge change because, historically, there was no such thing as a franchise fee. In fact, the teams were not franchises. F1 had the right to add, with the assent of the FIA, new teams – as many as we wanted.

“But we really wanted to create value in those franchises, we want to make the teams worth money so that people would invest and create, hopefully, parity on the track.

“Now the teams are looking and saying ‘Well wait a minute, we don’t want to divide 11 ways, we are very happy’ and whatever is being proposed to pay for a franchise fee doesn’t compensate them enough for the dilution that they’re going to take for the 11th team.

“So I think, in the right set of circumstances, we will work to get the 11th team – somebody who could bring a lot of value to the sport, a lot of value to the fans because of their position and technology, the position as an OEM, the position in marketing. Some combination of all that, you could imagine coming to some kind of an agreement.

“But it’s not without controversy, certainly among the 10 teams.”