The three key factors that led F1 to turn down Andretti

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali long stood by his stance that any 11th team would have to prove it was accretive to the series as a whole to secure a spot – with the clear inference being that the American squad faced a tough ask to prove it.

That F1 has finally ended three months of deliberation over its call on Andretti by rejecting its application (for now at least) is ultimately no surprise.

However, what was perhaps most intriguing about the way the decision went public was how detailed F1’s response was in outlining the issues at stake – perhaps well aware that anything less could open the risk of legal action if arguments were not robust enough.

FOM’s document even went into quite some detail, explaining how there had been written correspondence between Andretti and FOM last October, and that there had been an offer made on 12 December 2023, for a face-to-face meeting at FOM’s London HQ.

“The Applicant did not take us up on this offer,” said F1.

The full explanation outlines three key factors that it believes counted against the Andretti green light.

The double challenge forced by new 2026 rules

Andretti Cadillac logo

Photo by: Andretti Autosport

Andretti Cadillac logo

Against the backdrop of Andretti seeking to get on the grid for 2025 is the fact that F1 is heading for a major rules revolution the year after.

So rather than the American outfit wanting to get up-and-running when regulations have bedded down and it can enjoy stability, the timing would give Andretti a big headache in having to prepare cars for 2025 and the all-new formula for 2026 at the same time.

FOM believed that, based on the competitiveness of the F1 grid, trying to deliver strong performances amid the logistical challenge of 2025/2026 change was nigh on impossible.

“We do not believe that there is a basis for any new applicant to be admitted in 2025 given that this would involve a novice entrant building two completely different cars in its first two years of existence,” said F1.

“The fact that the Applicant proposes to do so gives us reason to question their understanding of the scope of the challenge involved. While a 2026 entry would not face this specific issue it is nevertheless the case that Formula 1, as the pinnacle of world motorsport, represents a unique technical challenge to constructors of a nature that the Applicant has not faced in any other formula or discipline in which it has previously competed.

“And it proposes to do so with a dependency on a compulsory PU supply in the initial years of its participation. On this basis, we do not believe that the Applicant would be a competitive participant.”

The engine issue

Andretti has secured a partnership with GM and its Cadillac brand.

Photo by: Uncredited

Andretti has secured a partnership with GM and its Cadillac brand.

One of the aces up Andretti’s sleeve has been that it has secured a partnership with GM and its Cadillac brand.

Long-term, the ambition is for GM to produce its own power unit – which would bring an important manufacturer on to the grid that even F1 admits would be a positive.

However, such a move is likely only possible from 2028 at the earliest, meaning in the interim Andretti would need to find a customer partner.

It did originally have a pre-contract agreement with Renault, pending on it securing an entry on the grid, but that lapsed last year – and since then there has been no progress in finalising a new deal.

F1 suggests that Andretti is instead relying on securing a “compulsory” engine deal – which is effectively a mechanism in the FIA rules whereby current manufacturers can be forced to supply customer teams if they have no power unit deal in place.

But while this would give Andretti access to an engine from one of the current car makers, F1 noted that this would be far from ideal because of the team’s long-established links with GM.

As F1 states: “The Applicant proposes to attempt this with a dependency on a compulsory supply from a rival PU manufacturer that will inevitably be reticent to extend its collaboration with the Applicant beyond the minimum required while the Applicant pursues its ambition of collaborating with GM as a PU supplier in the longer term, which a compulsory PU supplier would see as a risk to its intellectual property and know-how.”

Adding value

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start

The demand for any new entrant to bring added value to the grid is repeatedly mentioned in the F1 statement.

It is something that current teams have spoken about many times, even though they were not consulted at all by FOM regarding their opinions on the matter.

Instead, F1 spoke to other stakeholders to work out what value Andretti could bring to fans, and its impact on the prestige of the series, the competitiveness of the grid and sustainability goals.

FOM said it concluded that the best way for Andretti to bring value would be by “being competitive” – something it says it does not think it would be.

It also added: “The need for any new team to take a compulsory power unit supply, potentially over a period of several seasons, would be damaging to the prestige and standing of the championship.”

While Andretti’s name is big in motor racing circles, FOM suggested that: “F1 would bring value to the Andretti brand rather than the other way around.”

FOM also cited the extra costs that an 11th team would bring in terms of extra facilities at each race weekend, as well as reducing the “technical, operational and commercial spaces of the other competitors”.

In a strongly worded line FOM said: “We were not able to identify any material expected positive effect on CRH financial results, as a key indicator of the pure commercial value of the championship.”

F1’s statement was emphatic that the door for Andretti is firmly shut unless it can deliver a package that includes a works engine and a more competitive proposition – something that is going to take many years.

All eyes are now on Andretti about whether Wednesday’s verdict marks the death knell of its ambitions, or makes it dig in even more to push on with what’s needed to make the move into F1.

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