F1: Andretti father, son already F1 ‘insiders’

(GMM) Michael and Mario Andretti are already “insiders” who should be welcomed back into Formula 1.

That is the view of the latter, Mario Andretti – the world champion of 1978.

His son Michael, who raced alongside Ayrton Senna at McLaren in 1993, is now bidding to bring his Andretti Autosport operation into F1 – and the FIA has opened up the application process.

Michael Andretti and his McLaren F1 teammate Ayrton Senna in 1993

Soon, the F1 Commission will discuss potentially raising the $200 million new-team entry fee, but the initial step for Andretti is a due diligence check fee of $300,000.

The FIA has also clarified that Formula One Management – the company owned by Liberty Media – will have a say in the “selection criteria” for any new entrant.

Breaking ground at the new Andretti Global facility, from left, Michael Andretti, Daniel Towriss (CEO of Group1001 who is helping to finance much of the deal), Mario Andretti and Marissa Andretti – VP of Andretti Autosport and Managing Director, Andretti Technologies

The Andretti bid has caught a lot of attention due to the reluctance of many existing teams, with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali insisting the American outfit was “not smart” to call those teams “greedy”.

Mario Andretti hits back: “It should be understood where we are coming from.

“They’re racers, they’re part of the sport. But we are not new to Formula 1 either. We’re insiders.

“We know how much they love the sport, but we are the same.”

On paper, the Andretti bid appears to be strong – with a strong formative foundation in IndyCar, Formula E and elsewhere, and a new F1 collaboration with General Motors and Cadillac.

Renault-owned Alpine has also confirmed that a deal is in place to supply Andretti with engines if Formula 1 gives the green light for 2025.

“Their task is to provide the required evidence, which will be evaluated (by F1),” said Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

“If they come to Formula 1, we will be happy. If not, nothing happens.”

Mario Andretti, 82, is anxious for F1’s decision but the deadline for new-team applications does not expire until the end of April.

“We bring something to the party,” he said. “We have General Motors and Cadillac and a huge investment in the sport.

“We haven’t seen a mature American team in F1 since Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers, so why not take us? The US has a huge fan base,” Andretti added.

Unfazed by Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s step back from F1

Mario Andretti doesn’t think Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s step back from F1 will have any effect on Andretti’s F1 entry prospects.

Ben Sulayem has been a vocal supporter of the efforts of the Andretti Global team, with the Michael Andretti-led outfit doing their best to win approval for entry to the sport over the next few seasons.

“I don’t think so,” Mario told PlanetF1.com.

“I mean, with the FIA, we have everything in place, they obviously have officially opened up the prospects of teams joining, and they’re evaluating every aspect of that part.

“So we’re in there – all along we’ve had a very positive relationship. I mean, it’s nothing new that they have a day-to-day individual, Nikolas Tombazis, to handle all of the open-wheel aspects of the FIA.

“So, nothing has really changed from that part as far as we’re concerned. That change was made some time ago, with President Ben Sulayem just regrouping and he has really assessed the situation and put different individuals in charge of the different elements of the FIA, different responsibilities, and that has not changed from our standpoint at all.”

“We’re not planning in that respect [that they may not be accepted], I think everything on our side is staying positive,” he explained, re-iterating the stance from six months ago that the team are working as though permission has already been given.

“We’re working towards the project and hoping reason will prevail. Once we’re given a green light, we don’t feel like we’re starting from zero.

“Things have been going on with the team, Michael’s group is working every single day to prepare to do everything possible so that, once we’re given the green light, we’re already on the way – the effort is not stopping in any way.”