FIA president weighs in on prospect of Andretti-Cadillac F1 court case

Henry Valantine
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem addresses the media.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is not anticipating a court battle between the sport’s governing body and Formula One Management [FOM] over Andretti’s proposed entry into F1.

The Andretti-Cadillac bid was approved by the FIA after its Expressions of Interest process concluded, and talks have now advanced to FOM, where the current teams will be able to weigh in with any concerns surrounding expanding the grid.

Opinion is largely split surrounding the issue, with some current teams looking to protect their prize money income and others believing that having Andretti in the sport could help grow Formula 1’s appeal in America, which remains a key market – though there are fears that a court battle could break out if Andretti are rejected, despite satisfying the FIA’s requirements to reach F1.

FIA president: ‘Why should we go to court?’

The FIA and F1 appear at odds over Andretti-Cadillac coming into the sport, with the consensus among the teams being that there are 10 stable teams on the grid and it does not need to expand further, and adding to the grid will dilute income for the existing teams.

Ben Sulayem has said all along that money is the reason for the opposition to Andretti from within the sport, but even if the bid falls at the final hurdle, the FIA president said he will “not allow” Formula 1 and its governing body to get into a legal battle.

“We don’t have to go to court, and I don’t think any of us will go to court,” Ben Sulayem told reporters in Qatar, including Motorsport.com.

“I mean, maybe it sounds very exciting and thrilling to the media, but it will not go to court. I’m sure of that. Why should we go to court?

“This marriage [between FIA and FOM]? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think the Pope of the Vatican can get married 100 times and get divorced. But we will not be divorced.

“Yes, the owners might change tomorrow, Liberty Media might sell. But the FIA with Liberty going to court? We will not allow it even. It’s not even for discussion.

“To me, we pick up the phone, we handle things. These small things that go are part of making the sport better.”

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Andretti-Cadillac was the only one of the several bidders to reach Formula 1 to fully satisfy the FIA’s requirements for entry, teaming up with General Motors through Cadillac for an eventual factory power unit deal that would bring another Original Equipment Manufacturer [OEM] into the sport.

The FIA president has been keen to talk up the benefits of Andretti’s entry, pointing to the financial side of things alongside the sport’s appeal in America.

“There are many aspects to this,” Ben Sulayem said.

“First of all, Liberty is an American company and I read that Liberty were approving, and they were saying we would like to have another team.

“Then, looking at the share price, it went up instead of down when we declared it. That’s good for them.

“And thirdly, to say no to an American OEM. It’s very hard. On the contrary, it’s good for business.”

Read next: Report identifies major stumbling block in Andretti 2025 entry plans