F1 owners accused of ‘cartel-type behaviour’ as US Congress demand answers to three Andretti questions

Sam Cooper
Mario Andretti in Washington

Mario Andretti made a trip to Washington to further promote his family’s cause

Formula 1 owners Liberty Media have been described by 12 US lawmakers as using “cartel-type behaviour” by rejecting Andretti from joining the grid.

The American prospective team were rejected by Formula One Management (FOM) earlier this year having unsuccessfully tried to gain a place on the grid.

Liberty Media hit with demands from US lawmakers

The Andretti family, headed by 1978 World Champion Mario, have been trying for years to get a spot on the grid but have run into dead ends at almost every avenue.

Their latest setback came in February when FOM rejected their appeal before tearing apart their bid and suggesting they did not have what it takes to be competitive.

That has not perturbed the American family though and last month they acquired a new Silverstone-based HQ to increase their efforts to make it onto the grid.

Now, Mario Andretti has travelled to Washington DC ahead of the Miami Grand Prix after 12 members of the United States Congress sent a letter to FOM owners Liberty Media.

In the letter, addressed to Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, the members of Congress demanded answers to three questions regarding Andretti’s rejection – why the team was rejected despite the Concorde Agreement allowing up to 12 teams, how FOM’s denial related to the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 which outlaws unreasonable restraints on market competition, and how much did GM’s and Andretti’s entrance into racing competition taking a portion of the racing market share and GM’s entry into the European market taking market share each play into the decision to deny admission to the Andretti Global team, given the public outcry of incumbent Formula 1 teams against a new American competitor?

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The Congressmen and women also accused F1 of rejecting Andretti due to being “​​driven by the current line-up of European Formula 1 race teams, many of which are affiliated with foreign automobile manufacturers that directly compete with American automotive companies like GM.”

The letter also suggests F1’s rejection of Andretti could violate American antitrust laws and that participation in F1 should be based on merit and not just limited to protecting the current line-up of race teams. Something they said was “especially true considering Formula 1’s growing presence in the United States, including three grand prix motoring [sic] racing events in Miami, Florida; Austin, Texas; and Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Speaking at a press conference in Washington alongside Andretti, Congressman John James said Liberty was showing “cartel-type behaviour” and accused them of “kicking the can down the road to get a more juicy deal for themselves at the expense of having this icon racing on America’s 250th anniversary (in 2026).”

He also suggested that Liberty Media executives could be summoned to speak in front of Congress to answer for rejecting Andretti’s F1 bid.

PlanetF1.com has reached out to FOM for a response but at time of publication, had not heard back.

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