Marco Andretti says F1 team McLaren wanted his dad to fail UPDATE (GMM) IndyCar driver Marco Andretti said on Wednesday he hopes for a future in formula one, but accused one of the sport's marquee teams of sabotaging his father's career in the 90s.
The 21-year-old American's father, Michael, was Ayrton Senna's teammate for most of 1993, and conventional wisdom recalls that he was replaced by Mika Hakkinen because he was not committed or quick enough.
But Marco Andretti, preparing for the Indy 500, told The Associated Press: "If you ask me, it was sabotage."
With the promising and more affordable test driver Hakkinen waiting in the wings, Andretti - also the grandson of 1978 world champion Mario - says McLaren worked deliberately to make his father look bad.
"They would make the car do weird things in the corner electronically, stuff out of his control," he said, revealing that one of his father's only allies was the late Senna.
"He was one of the few who knew what was really happening in the team, and I think he believed in my father. It was Monza that he really said, 'Give him my car. Give him exactly what I had'," Marco said.
McLaren did not answer a request for comment.
Marco Andretti, meanwhile - who tested for Honda a couple of times more than a year ago - said he would also like to "tackle" the world of grand prix racing, but only with a front-running car.
"I don't have any other mentality other than to go over there and win," he said, suggesting that the IRL and Indy 500 titles would "help" attract teams' attention.
Andretti explained: "I think it's a bigger story if I go over there and fail, really. Because that's what people are waiting for, to be honest, over there."05/21/08 [Editor's Note: If this story is true, this is the same Ron Dennis team that may have tried to make Fernando Alonso look bad to help their 'pet' driver Lewis Hamilton. Alonso struck back, however, and helped the FIA with evidence that led to a $100 million fine against McLaren for using stolen secrets from Ferrari. Alonso is still probably getting a good last laugh over that one.]
Although Marco Andretti would jump at the chance to race in Formula One if the right team came calling, his eyes are wide open to the sport's dark side of politics and backstabbing.
|Marco Andretti slams McLaren F1 team|
And the third-generation member of one of racing's most famous families doesn't have to look far to find an example of F1's ruthless nature: His father, Michael, drove in the elite international series in 1993 and came away looking like a failure.
But Marco said the team his father drove for, McLaren, went out of its way to make sure he didn't get a fair shake.
"If you ask me, it was sabotage," Andretti told the Associated Press on Wednesday, as he prepared for Sunday's Indianapolis 500. "It was."
According to conventional racing wisdom, Michael Andretti didn't succeed in his lone F1 season because he wasn't committed enough, wasn't properly prepared or simply didn't measure up.
But Marco said people don't know "the real story" behind his father's poor performance that year, insisting the team tried to make his dad look bad so they could get rid of him and make room for a promising young driver -- Mika Hakkinen, who would go on to win two world championships.
"They wanted him to fail," Andretti said. "I don't know, it was a very bad deal. The reality of it was, they had Mika Hakkinen ready to come in for a lot less than what my dad was getting paid, and that's all it was. Right then and there, they had to make him look (bad)."
Andretti said McLaren's efforts to sabotage his father's career went beyond simply giving better cars and engines to his teammate, Ayrton Senna -- something that might be expected, given Senna's status as a three-time world champion. Andretti insists the team intentionally made his father's cars more difficult to drive.
"They would make the car do weird things in the corner electronically, stuff out of his control," Marco Andretti said.
The situation only improved, Andretti said, when Senna stepped in.
"And I think my dad's biggest supporter over there was Ayrton Senna," Andretti said. "Because he was one of the few who knew what was really happening in the team, and I think he believed in my father. It was Monza that he really said, 'Give him my car. Give him exactly what I had.'"
Michael Andretti finished third in the 1993 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, his only top-three finish of the season. It didn't matter, as Andretti was replaced by Hakkinen in the final three races of the season and returned to race in the U.S.
A McLaren team official did not immediately answer a request for a response to Andretti's comments. Senna died in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. AP Article