Christian Horner’s alternative plan for Andretti to join Formula 1 grid

Thomas Maher
Andretti Autosport logo, pictured in 2016.

The logo of Andretti Autosport on their factory.

Christian Horner believes Andretti should be trying to follow in the footsteps of Red Bull and Mercedes by buying up an existing F1 team.

Andretti Autosport, a prominent name in the US racing scene, are clamouring to enter Formula 1, with Michael Andretti’s outfit doing its utmost to win over the approval of F1, the FIA, and the 10 existing teams on the grid.

But the reception to a potential Andretti entry, despite their prominence in the US, has been lukewarm at best, with 1978 F1 World Champion Mario Andretti labelling the pushback as ‘disrespectful’.

Andretti have since announced a partnership with Cadillac for a renewed push to enter the sport, while US involvement has since picked up a gear with the arrival of Ford as an engine manufacturer after partnering up with Red Bull Powertrains.

The FIA have since opened up the possibility for potential new teams to enter the sport, meaning Andretti can formally apply to begin the process of entry. Any financial concerns, such as the ability to pay the $200 million entry fee that will be disseminated amongst the existing 10 teams, have been assuaged by Andretti.

But, despite appearing externally to have the knowledge and finances to be able to enter F1, Andretti have been encouraged to cosy up to an existing team to try a buy-out – a sentiment shared by Christian Horner.

Christian Horner: Buying existing teams has been the procedure for years…

Speaking to the UK’s Daily Mail, Horner said a look at the lineage of most of the teams nowadays shows a buy-out and investment into an existing team has been the way forward.

“Red Bull Racing was Jaguar, which was Stewart Ford,” he explained.

“You look at Mercedes, that goes all the way back through Honda to British American Racing to Tyrell. Aston Martin go back to being a Jordan team. That has been the procedure for many years.

‘There’s absolutely nothing against Andretti, they’re great people and Cadillac is a wonderful brand, but we need to come up with a criteria for 2026 that doesn’t diminish the value of, particularly, the smaller teams, and deals with the elephant in the room of: who is actually going to pay for it?

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“In terms of a new entrant, putting down a down-payment that doesn’t devalue the 10th franchise, and at the same time, Liberty and the teams accepting that, inevitably, compromises need to be made.

“There is, of course, also the practical elements of: are there enough garages at some of these new venues that we go to, to accommodate an 11th team? It needs to be dealt with in the right way.

“Andretti is a great team, Mario Andretti is a name synonymous with Formula 1… Cadillac, GM, is one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world. So it would be great to see them in the sport, but it’s just got to be done properly.”

Opening up further on the topic to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Horner said: “If the teams are asked to pay for it, that is going to become a problem amongst the 10 teams. There are two teams that are agreeing to it at the moment – one happens to be a partner of Andretti in IndyCar and the other is likely to be supplying an engine. So it’s obvious why they would support it.

“Unless there’s a new Concorde Agreement coming up in 2026, which would seem the juncture to deal with it, rather than prior to that. There’s a commitment between now and the end of 2025. So, if in 2026, there are two new teams, so long as fiscally it doesn’t harm the existing teams, I can’t see anybody being against it.”