FIA President continues his campaign to see Andretti and GM join the F1 grid

Michelle Foster
The FIA logo. February 2008.

The logo of the FIA displayed.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has revealed he advised Michael Andretti to link up with a manufacturer in his bid to join the Formula 1 circus.

After all, he says, how can Formula 1 say “no to someone like” General Motors.

But no is exactly what Formula 1’s bosses and the current teams are saying despite Ben Sulayem’s campaigning.

Last year former F1 driver Andretti announced he had applied for the 11th spot on the Formula 1 grid, but months went by without the American receiving an answer.

Despite that he continued to press on with his plans and earlier this month revealed he had teamed up with General Motors under their Cadillac brand.

Still, however, the majority of the teams are saying no with Andretti putting that down to greed.

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But while the teams aren’t in favour, the FIA is with Ben Sulayem adamant Andretti and General Motors would be a good addition to the grid. After all, he told the American to find a manufacturer and that’s exactly what he did.

“I spoke to Mario and Michael Andretti at the Miami race weekend,” he said to Auto Motor und Sport at the recent Rally of Monaco.

“We were very clear in our answer at the time. We want a manufacturer. We told Andretti to work with one if they were serious about it. We encouraged them, they delivered.”

From the General Motors name to America’s growing popularity in the United States, Ben Sulayem is baffled as to why Formula 1 bosses having opened the door to Andretti.

“How on earth could we say no to someone like GM?” he continued.

“We wanted a big manufacturer. You are one. I had good discussions with the President of GM. He told me it wasn’t his decision alone. It was the governing body. They sent us a letter.

“We have three races in the US. It’s a healthy market.”

He also feels saying no to General Motors would not be good for the FIA nor Formula 1.

“Imagine if we did that,” he said. “That would be wrong.

“I wasn’t elected to make money, I was elected to support the sport. I am an elected representative of the sport. We need a strong and fair FIA. Fairness is very important to us.”

He added: “We can add two more teams. That’s what the rules say. If they’re credible and they mean business, then we should let new teams come in.

“We have to open the door to serious applicants. That could attract other interested parties.

“”In a short time, maybe as early as next week, another manufacturer could sign for the 2026 engine regulations.”