F1 expert paints bleak Andretti picture after Monaco ‘backdoor grab’ attempt

Oliver Harden
Michael Andretti

Andretti are pushing on with their F1 preparations.

F1 business expert Mark Gallagher fears the sport could ultimately find itself in a legal battle if Andretti is denied a place on the grid.

And he has revealed that eponymous team owner Michael Andretti has riled existing F1 team bosses due to the aggressive nature of his attempt to secure an entry.

Andretti have been seeking a place in F1 for some time and in January secured the support of General Motors via its Cadillac brand as a partner.

Andretti F1 opposition has become personal

Last week, General Motors chief executive Mark Reuss announced Cadillac’s intention to become an F1 engine supplier from 2028 in a renewed effort to convince the sport to grant an entry to Andretti.

The plans have been welcomed by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem with the governing body giving Andretti the green light last month, but the commercial arm of F1 remains unmoved.

Although financial concerns among the existing 10 teams have been cited as a major barrier to Andretti’s entry, Gallagher has revealed that the opposition to Andretti also has a personal edge with several F1 team principals rubbed up the wrong way.

And he questioned whether Andretti has the capacity to run a successful F1 team, claiming team bosses have been left unconvinced by their plans after face-to-face meetings.

Speaking via the Flat Chat podcast, he said: “What we have here is a tough negotiation going on with, in one corner, Andretti and now General Motors, and in the other corner, the majority of the existing teams who feel like they’re being railroaded into taking an 11th team and handing over a proportion of their prize money.

“[F1 chief executive] Stefano Domenicali’s got this slightly unenviable job of trying to make the right call because he will have Toto Wolff, Christian Horner and a lot of other team principals saying to him: ‘Listen, Stefano, we have gone through thick and thin to get the sport this far. Are we seriously going to give away a slice of the cake to someone? Now that we’ve got everything looking rosy, Michael Andretti wants to turn up.’

“Of course, the other thing is it’s not even just about the money. It is, I’m told, also about the manner of the way in which Michael Andretti has gone about it.

“There is a degree of personal acrimony. It might be too strong a word, but a lot of the teams really did not appreciate the way Michael Andretti went about trying to kickstart his entry, turning up in Monte Carlo with a sheet of paper saying: ‘Sign here and let me have a slice of the action.’

“I think they felt it was a backdoor grab to come in.

“I’ve then had team principals tell me that they have met Michael Andretti, they have spent two hours with the guy and at no stage did they see how he has the capability or understanding of what it is really going to take to run a Formula 1 team.”

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Gallagher warned that the political battle could soon turn nasty if Andretti are rejected, adding: “The next few months are going to be fascinating.

“My fear is that if Formula 1 rejects Andretti – they’ll come up with all the reasons why they don’t want to have it – I think we could see a lawsuit develop pretty quickly because Liberty’s an American company, Formula 1 is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Andretti has raised a huge amount of money, relatively speaking, in the United States.

“And if he has got General Motors lined up behind him, it’s not impossible to see a classic American legal case developed to say: ‘We should be allowed in and there’s no good grounds on which you should be stopping us. It’s an anti competitive to basically run the sport as an elite club.'”

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