Mario Andretti has said he hopes to hear in the next “couple of months” about the status of son Michael’s hopes of entering Formula 1.
Andretti Autosport announced a partnership with General Motors through Cadillac in early January as FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem opened an ‘expressions of interest’ process over prospective new teams looking to come to the grid.
Michael Andretti held a press conference a matter of days later confirming his team’s interest in entering the sport in conjunction with the American automotive giant, though Formula 1 teams themselves issued a more lukewarm response to the idea overall.
With Andretti Autosport having recently broken ground on a new state-of-the-art factory in Indiana that will house all of its global racing operations, including a potential Formula 1 team, 1978 World Champion Andretti Sr explained that the team is holding on for word from the FIA and F1 before going full steam ahead – despite already making preparations to enter the sport.
“The truth is that we are structuring the team day by day, as if the green light is already there,” Andretti told Autosprint in Italy.
“A programme like this is very complex, so we have to keep moving forward, even if not at top speed, but to put key names under contract we need certainties, so from that point of view we are still on hold.
“Let’s say we could reasonably have an answer within a couple of months.”
Ben Sulayem said Andretti’s planned entry was a “welcome” one, though the current teams are able to vote and thus veto any planned entries into the sport, with several team bosses having raised concerns about the amount of prize money being diluted by another team being added to the grid.
Michael Andretti felt this position is “all about greed” from the current teams’ perspective, and his father explained that he received direction from Ben Sulayem himself about how to go about entering Formula 1, and that a greater American presence on the grid can only be a good thing in a key market for the sport.
“He was the one who advised us to look for a partnership with a big manufacturer to give more strength and depth to our project,” Andretti said of the FIA president.
“That’s where the partnership with Cadillac came from, which means a community of intent with General Motors.
“Money, money… But what money? How much does a big team’s annual revenue go down if we come in?
“In a situation of exponential growth in Formula 1, to see an American team with a deep-rooted identity in the racing world would be extremely positive for everyone.”