Mario Andretti explains US Congress intervention as intended F1 entry year confirmed

Thomas Maher
Mario Andretti, 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

Mario Andretti has explained why he ended up in conversation about the Andretti Global F1 effort to Congress.

Mario Andretti has explained how the matter of Andretti’s F1 bid being rejected ended up before members of Congress in the United States.

Andretti’s burgeoning F1 team was rejected by Liberty Media, having already been given the green light to progress through the entry process following strenuous FIA stress tests.

Andretti entry bid investigated by Congress

With F1 rejecting the Andretti bid but leaving the door open for a possible entry in 2028, Andretti hasn’t taken the rejection lying down and, instead, has continued preparing for entry to the sport as if approval had already been granted.

This includes the opening of a new Silverstone manufacturing facility, and starting the process of recruitment for 60 jobs at the facility.

But, with the door still closed on the Andretti/General Motors bid to become the 11th F1 team, the chairman of the United State’s House Judiciary Committee has demanded answers by no later than May 21st.

Having met with members of Congress in the run-up to the Miami Grand Prix, 1978 F1 World Champion Mario Andretti told Sky F1’s Martin Brundle the latest on the situation as he spoke to the broadcaster on the grid.

“All I can say is we’re working every day on it,” he said.

“We’re ready to meet whatever challenge there is, just tell us what and we’re in.

“We’re preparing in every possible way and our intention is to be on the grid in 2026.”

Having previously told the same intended date in an earlier interview, Andretti said he believes the 2026 campaign is achievable, given the major regulation changes that will be a fresh sheet of paper for all the teams and manufacturers.

“Oh, absolutely. 100 percent,” he said.

“We’re working on it already, so we can show you! Come to Silverstone, and we’ll show you!”

As for how the meeting with Congress had come about, Andretti explained: “Formula 1 had an exhibition of Red Bull at Pennsylvania Avenue, and then members of Congress knew more than I ever thought about our plight.

“They asked me to come there and explain why we’re not allowed here. So that was the case.”

Earlier this month, 12 members of United States Congress sent a letter to Liberty Media, addressed to CEO Greg Maffei, demanding answers over the rejection.

These include 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 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 12 members of Congress 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.

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