Andretti eyeing Formula 1 move
By Mat Coch
Friday 17th September, 2021 - 12:24pm
Michael Andretti is interested in expanding his racing operation into Formula 1 and is exploring possible opportunities.
Andretti Autosport is a well-established powerhouse in IndyCar racing, and has fielded a squad in Formula E.
It has also been involved in sportscar racing, among other programmes, however it has never previously entered F1.
Andretti, son of 1978 world champion Mario, had a brief foray in 1993, driving alongside Ayrton Senna at McLaren before being replaced by Mika Hakkinen.
However, a changing climate in F1 could see the Andretti name return to the pinnacle of the sport.
With cost cap regulations now in place, together with other measures designed to even the playing field from front to back, the F1 grid is beginning to become an attractive one to investors.
“It would be great, but there’s a long way to go if it were to happen,” Andretti told American publication Racer last month when asked of a possible F1 involvement.
“If the right opportunity comes up, we’ll be all over it. But we’re not there yet.”
Andretti already has links into the F1 paddock courtesy of Zak Brown, the McLaren CEO, with whom he has a longstanding business relationship that reaches into Australia through Supercars squad Walkinshaw Andretti United.
However, Brown was quick to shoot down any suggestions that he or McLaren could be involved in Andretti’s F1 foray.
“No, we’re very focused on McLaren Formula 1,” Brown said.
“Michael and I are great friends, so my doors always open to have a conversation, but we don’t have any interest in focusing on anything in F1, other than on ourselves.”
A more likely bedfellow for the American’s investment is a team such as Sauber, which is one of the few teams not directly linked to a manufacturer.
Other options are Williams or Haas, though the former was sold last year to Dorilton Capital and is in the midst of a restructuring and rebuilding period.
“I think it’s not the case,” responded Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur when asked if the team was for sale.
“And on the top of this, I’m the CEO of the company, I’m running the company, but I think if one day these kinds of discussions happen it won’t be with me, it will be with my shareholders.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has recently suggested F1 could do with more teams, though steep barriers currently make such a process exceedingly difficult.
Though there are theoretically multiple spots on the grid for new entrants, a $200 million fee is payable simple for the privilege of joining.
That goes on top of the investment required to get the team itself off the ground with facilities, equipment, and personnel.
The last team to go though that process was Haas, which is currently rooted to the bottom of the championship standings as the only team without a point to its name in 2021.
Buying in to an existing team is therefore far more likely, with Haas another potential candidate, Andretti having discussed the notion with Gene Haas.
Earlier this year, Andretti registered Andretti Acquisitions Corporation, which is seeking to raise $250 million through an initial public offering.
“While we may pursue our initial business combination in any business, industry or geographic location, we currently seek to focus on opportunities that can benefit from the iconic Andretti brand name, both inside and outside of the worldwide motorsports platform and the expertise and ability of our management team to identify, acquire and grow a business in the broadly-defined automotive industry,” the Securities and Exchange Commission filing stated.
“This industry includes, but is not limited to advanced mobility and related next-generation technologies, premium and performance vehicles and replacement automotive parts.
“We believe that there are highly attractive investment opportunities in the automotive sector arising from increased focus on sustainable living and enhanced consumer experience.
“Growth in sustainability is being driven by a combination of macroeconomic and social trends as well as the rapid advancement of disruptive technologies which can be further accelerated by a public listing and access to new capital and ownership expertise.”
Listed among the shareholding director nominees was Zak Brown.