Andretti walks away from Sauber takeover talks

Date published: October 28 2021 - Jon Wilde

Mechanics work on an Alfa Romeo car at the Italian GP. Monza September 2021.

Michael Andretti’s anticipated takeover of Sauber appears to be off – with money unsurprisingly cited as the reason.

In the last few weeks, talk of Andretti Autosport’s buyout of the team that currently races in Formula 1 as Alfa Romeo had gathered speed to the point where it had seemed inevitable.

There was even strong speculation that IndyCar racer Colton Herta would be crossing the Atlantic to line up as Valtteri Bottas’ team-mate next season.

But now, according to The Race, none of the above will be happening due to financial stumbling blocks being too difficult to overcome.

That was also being reported by respected German website Auto Motor und Sport, whose F1 editor Michael Schmidt said on the outlet’s YouTube channel about the proposed deal: “First it was said it was put on hold, now we hear it is completely off the table.

“Apparently the price is too high. There is a specific price for the team plus a guarantee (paddock says around $250m).”

Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen in the pits. Austin October 2021

The Race reports this guarantee represented $50m a year for five years paid upfront, as requested by Sauber’s ownership, which is ostensibly Swedish billionaire Finn Rausing, in order to ensure the team had the funding to operate at the budget cap in case of any sponsorship issues.

That appears to have put off Andretti, with The Race saying multiple sources had told them “there will not be a deal” now.

Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur had refused to comment on the rumours at the weekend, without giving a denial that something was happening in the background.

“I have absolutely no comment to make. It’s not my business,” said Vasseur, quoted by The Race, during the United States Grand Prix weekend.

“I’m not involved in this kind of discussion and we have absolutely no comments to do, as we did in the past.

“I’m focused on running the team. It’s not my business at all.”

 

With Herta therefore looking like he is completely out of the picture, the choice as Bottas’ team-mate for next year again centres upon Guanyu Zhou who is reported to have substantial sponsorship backing.

Zhou’s Formula 2 rivals Oscar Piastri and Theo Pourchaire, the latter a Sauber junior driver, have also been linked, as it looks like Antonio Giovinazzi will follow soon-to-retire Kimi Raikkonen out of the team.

Whoever joins will essentially be playing a supporting role to Bottas, who has been designated team leader status with a three-year contract upon his move from Mercedes.

 

Planet F1 verdict