Michael Andretti

Andretti’s bid to enter Formula 1 with Cadillac approved by FIA

Michael AndrettiMichael Andretti currently owns teams that compete in IndyCar, Formula E and Extreme E

The US-based Andretti team’s bid to enter Formula 1 with General Motors’ Cadillac brand has been approved by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA.

Andretti Formula Racing were the only team approved by the FIA out of four candidates who made it to the second phase of the new teams process.

All others were deemed not to have met the required criteria.

Andretti-Cadillac’s bid will now be assessed by rights holders Formula 1 on a commercial basis.

F1 will only admit Andretti if it considers their entry to add value to the championship as a whole.

There is no defined period for this assessment to take place, and it is likely to last some months. F1 is widely expected to reject Andretti’s bid.

A statement from the FIA said each application was assessed based on sporting, technical and financial analysis.

President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “The FIA was very clear in establishing stringent criteria for entry from the outset of the expressions of interest procedure.

“Our objective, after rigorous due diligence during the application phase, was to only approve prospective entries which satisfied the set criteria and illustrated that they would add value to the sport.

“The FIA is obliged to approve applications that comply with the expressions of interests application requirements and we have adhered to that procedure in deciding that Andretti Formula Racing LLC’s application would proceed to the next stage of the application process.

“Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfils the selection criteria that was set in all material respects.”

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The FIA did not reveal the identities of the other teams who were assessed in the second phase of the process, but they are widely known within the sport.

The final four were Andretti, a partnership between New Zealand’s Ronin Cars and the Carlin racing organisation, junior category race team Hitech, and an Asian partnership known as Lucky Suns.

Two other candidates – Formula Eagle, led by former BAR team boss Craig Pollock, and Pantera Team Asia – were ruled out at an earlier stage.

In a statement Formula 1 said: “We note the FIA’s conclusions in relation to the first and second phases of their process and will now conduct our own assessment of the merits of the remaining application.”

Andretti-Cadillac added: “We appreciate the FIA’s rigorous, transparent and complete evaluation process and are incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to compete in such a historic and prestigious championship.

“We look forward to engaging with all of the stakeholders in Formula 1 as we continue our planning to join the grid as soon as possible.”

Will Andretti be accepted?

F1’s bosses have been lukewarm on the idea of a new team ever since Ben Sulayem announced his decision to open up a new teams candidate process in 2022.

Greg Maffei, the chief executive officer of Liberty Media, which owns F1, said in June: “In the right set of circumstances, we would work to get the 11th team. Somebody who could bring a lot of value to the sport, a lot of value to the fans.”

F1 chairman Stefano Domenicali said earlier this year: “There are a lot of dimensions to consider and we don’t have to overreact because someone is pushing the system.”

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This was a veiled reference to Andretti, whose founder Michael Andretti is regarded by many in F1 to have been too aggressive in his bid to be accepted into the sport.

The existing 10 teams have made clear their opposition to any new entrants.

F1’s governing documents, often referred to as the Concorde Agreement, allow for up to 12 teams to take part in the sport.

And they mandate a $200m (£165m) anti-dilution fee to be split between the existing teams to compensate them for the loss of prize money caused by their portion of F1’s funds being split 11 ways rather than 10.

A number of teams have suggested that $200m is too low a figure given the apparent rise in value of the teams as a result of the sport’s increase in popularity in recent years.

Estimates put the value of leading teams at close to $1bn (£830m).

An investment by a group including Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny in Renault-owned Alpine, who are sixth in this year’s world championship with six races to go, valued the team at £706m in June.