Mario Andretti not giving up on Formula 1 despite ‘disappointing’ resistance

Sam Cooper
Mohammed ben Sulayem talking to Michael Andretti. Miami May 2022.

Mario Andretti has described his son’s inability to secure an F1 spot as “disappointing” but said the family was determined to continue their interest.

Having failed in their bid to buy Sauber last year, the Andretti family have been pushing for the own spot on the grid from 2024 onwards but have met more resistance than they would have been anticipating.

Mario Andretti confirmed in February that his son, Michael, had submitted an application to the FIA for an introduction of a new team called Andretti Global.

This caused a rift among the current 10 teams with Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff being one of the most outspoken when it came to his opposition.

The Austrian stated that a new team would have to show its value to the existing teams, something Mario took offence to.

Six months have passed since the application was first submitted but, despite the lukewarm reception, Mario Andretti remained optimistic about its outcome.

“It’s been quite a while. I’ve been hearing him talking about this in the last five years at least,” he told Motorlat.com.

“It’s part of his ambition as a car owner. Motor racing is his business. He lives and breathes this sport like we always did.

“Now in his capacity as an owner, he just wants to take advantage of the opportunity to stay at the top level.”

Formula 1 already has a US-based team in the form of Haas but Michael Andretti accused the sport of being a “European club” something that Haas boss Guenther Steiner took umbrage with. Mario seems to have continued this growing feud by labelling owner Gene Haas “not a 100% racer”.

“Why not Formula 1? Gene Haas did it. He’s not a 100% racer – we’re 100% racers.

“He [Michael Andretti] has fabulous backing, people that are serious and capable. Everything is for the long-term.

“Obviously we’re experiencing some resistance – and it’s very disappointing at the moment.

“Are we giving up? No. I think we deserve to be there.”

The Andretti group has said the deadline is fast approaching if they are to join the sport for 2024, with marketing director of Andretti Autosport, Jean-Francois Thormann, saying the team wants to get in as early as possible.

“We are not waiting for the final version of the rules from 2026, we want to get in earlier,” he told Speedweek.

“But it’s getting close for the plan from 2024. The deadline is already very close.”