While the chaos at the Qatar Grand Prix dominated the headlines, the main topic of discussion in the paddock – Andretti’s potential entry into Formula One – was overshadowed. Having received FIA approval to join the F1 grid, the team’s entry has been the subject of considerable debate, even leading to discussions of possible legal action.
Surprisingly, none of the current F1 teams have responded publicly to the FIA’s announcement. Formula One Management (FOM), which represents the commercial rights for Liberty Media, issued a one-word statement acknowledging the FIA’s decision. In the meantime, a Sky F1 fan poll revealed that 84% of viewers were in favour of Andretti joining as the 11th team.
Does Andretti need further approval?
It has been suggested in the mainstream media that Andretti’s entry would require further approval from both the FOM and the existing F1 teams. Is this the case? There have been suggestions of litigation due to the resistance of existing teams to the addition of another competitor.
Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing, has questioned the logistical feasibility of adding another team. He pointed out that there is no room for an 11th team at venues such as Zandvoort. However, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem dismissed this argument, pointing out that an 11th ‘Hollywood’ team has already been accommodated at several venues this year for filming purposes.
Ben Sulayem was adamant that the current Concorde Agreement allows for up to 12 teams, meaning that promoters must be prepared to accommodate such a number. He emphasised that the responsibility lies with the promoter and the circuit, not with the FIA.
Legal tensions? Not according to the FIA
When asked about the growing tensions and the likelihood of a legal battle between the FIA and the FOM, Ben Sulayem was resolute. According to him, the relationship between the two organisations is too integral to be broken by legal disputes.
Christian Horner shifted the focus to funding, questioning how the new team would be financed. He suggested that the FIA and Liberty Media should address the funding issue and approach the existing teams with a concrete proposal.
Horner also pointed out that when Audi entered F1 they acquired an existing team and questioned whether Andretti should follow a similar route. However, Andretti claimed that no existing team was interested in selling, making that option unfeasible.
Ben Sulayem argued that Liberty Media would welcome another American-based team like Andretti, backed by General Motors. He also firmly rejected the idea that the current teams had any legal veto over Andretti’s entry.
Remarkably, it has been noted that Andretti could technically enter F1 without a financial agreement with FOM, thus handling their own logistics. The idea that FOM could childishly refuse paddock passes to keep Andretti out was scoffed at by Ben Sulayem.
Andretti will not be left without F1 engine supply, says FIA
Meanwhile, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has confirmed that the American team will not be left without a power unit when they join the sport. The assurance comes amid ongoing discussions and some differing interpretations of the rules within the F1 community.
The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has approved Andretti’s entry into Formula One, with the earliest date of entry set for 2025. However, this approval is subject to Andretti reaching a commercial agreement with Formula One Management (FOM), which remains uncertain.
Andretti’s Cadillac connection
Andretti has ambitious plans to bring the Cadillac brand into Formula One. But given the time it takes to develop a competitive power unit, it’s highly unlikely that the team will have its own engine ready any time soon. As a result, Andretti is likely to need a customer engine deal for its inaugural F1 campaign.
Andretti were originally expected to secure Renault engines for their debut. Unfortunately, talks with the French car manufacturer have stalled and a pre-existing contract has expired, leaving Andretti without a confirmed engine supplier.
F1’s sporting regulations are designed to ensure that every team has an engine supply. However, it’s debatable whether newcomers like Andretti have the same guarantee as established teams. Ben Sulayem clarified that Andretti would indeed qualify for an engine supply, as the long-term goal is for General Motors/Cadillac to develop its own power unit.
FIA will ensure an engine will be available
The FIA President argues that Appendix 6 of the F1 Sporting Regulations will apply to Andretti, giving them the option of requesting an engine from one of the manufacturers with the fewest customer teams. This narrows down the likely suppliers for 2026 to Honda and Alpine, as they are currently committed to only one team each. According to Ben Sulayem, “If all the teams say no, then the FIA has the power to put them [Andretti] in a draw with the least used engine manufacturers and make a choice.
Scepticism within F1
Despite Ben Sulayem’s assurances, some within the F1 community are not so convinced about the straightforward application of these rules to new entrants. Bruno Famin, Alpine’s interim team principal, said that while the situation was complex, they would fully comply with any FIA decision.
Ben Sulayem sees the potential for General Motors to build its own engine as a positive development for the sport. With Audi and Andretti/GM showing interest in engine development, he sees this as an achievement that puts F1 on the right track.
MORE F1 NEWS: Wolff says he doesn’t want to hear Hamilton complaints anymore
The resurgence of McLaren since round nine has been one of the most remarkable stories of 2023. From the point they bought their first major upgrade in Austria, they have scored more points than every other team besides Red Bull.
In fact over the past three Grand Prix McLaren have even outscored the world champions due to their driving pairing both scoring points heavily. Meanwhile Red Bull have suffered as…READ MORE ON THIS STORY