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Andretti-Cadillac announcement receives mixed reception from FIA and F1

Andretti-Cadillac announcement receives mixed reception from FIA and F1

On Thursday Andretti Global and General Motors announced to media members, including, the formation of a partnership seeking to place a team on the Formula 1 grid. Under the partnership, GM would be represented by the Cadillac brand, and the Andretti-Cadillac team would be based in the United States, with a support facility in the United Kingdom.

The partnership was announced days after FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced on social media that F1’s governing body would be inviting “Expressions of Interest” for potential teams to submit entries to join F1.

Michael Andretti began the conference call announcing the partnership stating that “[T]oday I’m very excited to announce that Andretti Autosports has partnered with General Motors to submit an expression of interest.” Andretti continued to outline that both GM and Andretti “have a strong interest in racing.”

However, the response from both FIA, and F1, has been mixed.

During the conference call on Thursday, Andretti spoke at length about FIA President Ben Sulayem, and how his racing background meshes with the need for a new team on the grid. “In the end it is still an FIA series, and the President [FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem] has shared that he would really like to have an 11th team on the grid. He is a racer and he understands the importance of that itself.” said Andretti on Thursday.

That position seemed to be supported by Ben Sulayem on social media. The FIA President posted this on Twitter after the Andretti-Cadillac announcement:

F1, however, took a more muted approach to the news. F1 released a statement of its own, outlining how the Andretti-Cadillac partnership is just one potential new team to be considered for entry to F1:

“There is great interest in the F1 project at this time with a number of conversations continuing that are not as visible as others.

“We all want to ensure the championship remains credible and stable and any new entrant request will be assessed on criteria to meet those objectives by all the relevant stakeholders.

“Any new entrant request requires the agreement of both F1 and the FIA.”

That statement mirrors a sentiment shared by other leaders within F1, including Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, and F1 President and CEO Formula 1 Stefano Domenicali.

Prior to last May’s Miami Grand Prix, Wolff spoke at length about expanding the field, concluding that “[t]hat may sound a bit dry because it comes down to the numbers, but the value of Formula 1 is that it’s a limited amount of franchises and we don’t want to dilute that value by just adding teams.”

In September, Domenicali was asked about the need for expansion in an interview with Sky Sports. He too pushed back on the idea, and seemed to outline a preference for a much slower approach to growth. “Adding one or two, you may open up some driving seats. But we need to also have the right dimension in what is successful for the sport. I think in that respect there is the evaluation of the sustainability of the team, the evaluation of not being too crowded with that. So I would say in terms of priority, it is not really a need for Formula 1 today.”

What might make the Andretti-Cadillac proposal appealing to FIA and F1 is the all-American nature proposed by the partnership. The sport has enjoyed sustained growth in the United States over the past few years, and looking ahead to the 2023 fans of F1 can anticipate three events in the United States, the most ever in a single season. The debut of the highly-anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix is one of those three events.

As Andretti outlined on Thursday, an all-American team would be big for the sport. “[An] American manufacturer behind an American team with an American driver will be the biggest story of the year.” In a press release announcing the partnership Mark Reuss, the President of GM, added this: “General Motors is honored to team with Andretti Global on this historic moment in racing. We have a long, rich history in motorsports and engineering innovation, and we are thrilled with the prospect of pairing with Andretti Global to form an American F1 team that will help spur even more global interest in the series and the sport.”

By leaning into the idea of growth, Andretti-Cadillac might put themselves in strong position.

Even if the initial response has been mixed from FIA and F1.

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