Anti-Andretti rally continues as Williams boss points to rival team

Henry Valantine
James Vowles, Williams boss, speaks to the press in Canada. June 2023

James Vowles, Williams boss, speaks to the press.

Williams team principal James Vowles has questioned the argument of why adding a second American F1 team would broaden the sport’s appeal in the country.

Andretti-Cadillac’s bid to reach Formula 1 has received FIA approval, but commercial talks now must take place with Formula One Management (FOM), before the team can receive final approval to make it onto the F1 grid.

Team principals have been largely split on the issue, but Vowles has been one of several to come out against adding a new team, as Williams are currently running at a loss and he wants to see the sport financially stabilise for all current teams before adding any more.

Williams boss: ‘We’ve got an American team. How does a second help us?’

Andretti Global are in the process of building a new headquarters in Fishers, Indiana that would house all their motorsport activities, ranging from IndyCar, Formula E to even Formula 1 – with team boss Michael Andretti keen on creating a unique selling point by developing a truly all-American team in future.

While Haas are American through the funding of Gene Haas and have an administrative base in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the majority of the building of the car takes place in Europe, with a UK factory in Banbury and technical staff in Maranello, Italy.

But with the sport’s popularity and presence in America at an all-time high, Williams team principal Vowles has questioned how Andretti’s arrival would add to that American appeal, and is waiting to hear answers.

“If you’re bringing in new elements to things, you can certainly show how you’re going to grow within America,” Vowles said to Sky Sports F1.

“We’ve got an American team: Haas. How does a second American team help us? We’ve got three American races. How does an American team help that?

“There are ways of doing it. But as of yet, that’s still what we’re waiting for.”

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Andretti have partnered with automotive giants General Motors through Cadillac to create their own factory power units in future, should they make it onto the Formula 1 grid, but Vowles is keen to stress that half the teams currently on the grid are already running at a loss.

As a result, he has made clear that he is not “anti-11th team”, but wants to see every team reach profitability before the grid is expanded – though he acknowledges the weight a company like GM would bring to Formula 1.

“We’ve grown a sport, yes, I think so, but not grown to the point where we’re stable yet, and I think that’s the key point I’m trying to bring to everybody’s attention,” Vowles reasoned.

“The FIA are doing absolutely the right thing, check whether Andretti and GM [are viable].

“GM by the way, incredible organisation, absolutely should be a part of Formula 1.

“It’s a fantastic OEM [original equipment manufacturer], and remember, this growth came about because we were in a situation where we wanted to open our arms up because at the time teams were worried about even investing or staying in it.

“There was a number of teams, a number of OEMs saying: ‘I’m done, this is getting too expensive.’

“That’s the reason why we’ve grown it, so what we’re saying at the moment is we’re still growing, but let’s get financially stable with things first.”

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