Mario Andretti slams F1’s team exclusion tactics

Ahead of a critical upcoming meeting with Formula 1 authorities, motorsport icon Mario Andretti openly expressed his disappointment, stating, “I was offended, actually,” regarding Formula 1’s resistance to introducing a new team. The sport’s management had recently declined the entry of an eleventh team into the prestigious racing series.

Supported by General Motors, the proposed team would be led by Michael Andretti – 84-year-old Mario’s son. They had ambitions to launch the team by 2025, but despite initial approval from the FIA, the commercial administrators of the sport, Formula One Management (FOM) — a Liberty Media subsidiary — delayed the preparations until at least 2026. Ultimately, they said no altogether, suggesting a further postponement until at least 2028 but with no assurance of that, coinciding with the availability of GM’s Cadillac engines.

“I don’t think we deserved that, to be honest with you. It’s a big investment in the series, and you’d think they’d welcome that. Even the value of the series is more valuable with 11 teams than 10, so I don’t know,” lamented Mario Andretti, the 1978 world champion. He questioned the rationale behind the rejection, demanding, “Tell us what is really wrong.”

In a surprising turn, FOM even tried to pitch the Cadillac engines to an existing team, despite Andretti insisting GM wanted “Andretti or nothing”. Mario Andretti found this move particularly galling, remarking, “That’s another offensive statement there. We’re the ones that worked it out, and GM said it over and over – ‘Andretti or nothing’. And then they still tried to take it.”

Amidst this tension, Mario noted a baffling resistance from F1’s side, adding, “There’s an undercurrent there that I don’t understand, quite honestly, but if they want blood, well, I’m ready.”

Despite the setbacks, Andretti remains hopeful, revealing an impending meeting with Formula 1’s leaders on the fringes of the Miami Grand Prix. “We only had one meeting with them. That’s a problem. We haven’t had enough. I think that’s why I really welcome our next meeting. You know, let’s sit down,” he shared.

Simultaneously, Andretti Global is advancing its preparations, having recently initiated a new Formula 1 facility at Silverstone Park in the UK, and actively testing in a wind tunnel with a scale model of their car. Mario Andretti is steadfast in his commitment, saying, “We’re trying to say ‘We’ll do whatever you ask of us. Now, if you think of something, you tell us’,” asserting their readiness to expand into Formula 2 and Formula 3 if necessary.

The team is still aiming for 2026, but Mario remains wary of the underlying financial motives among the current teams and F1. “It’s definitely about the financial side, no question about it.”

GMM

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