F1 bosses bemused by Andretti criticisms

Michael Andretti

A number of Formula 1 team bosses have been left bemused by comments made by Michael Andretti about his reception into the sport.

Andretti is currently working to stand up an all-new team after his efforts to purchase Alfa Romeo Sauber failed late last year.

He’s met with the FIA to discuss the advantages of his participation and is understood to have signed a deal with Renault for power units.

However, while there appear to be solid bonuses to the sport and its current participants should Andretti join the grid, there remain those who want demonstrated value before opening their arms to the project.

That led American to describe Formula 1 as “snobbish” and “a definite European club,” in a recent interview with GQ.

“I don’t know what he’s trying to achieve with his comments,” said Guenther Steiner, team boss at the only American-registered squad on the grid, Haas.

Andretti looks set to operate a similar model to Haas’, with the team understood looking to be looking to establish a base in Europe from which to operate despite the American name above the door.

“It’s not really our [the teams’] decision to give him a licence or not, we have got an opinion, but I don’t think we can decide that one,” Steiner added of the process of having a new team approved.

“We don’t know what he presented or, I don’t know, I shouldn’t speak for other people – I don’t know what he presented to [the] FIA and FOM.

“In my opinion, these comments, they’re not constructive or taking [things] forward, but you live by your choices.”

Steiner’s opinion is along the same lines as Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto.

“I’ve never met Michael, myself,” he explained.

“I don’t know what’s about so, are we supportive or not? I cannot comment because I never had a discussion.

“I don’t know what they’re presenting. I don’t know what they’re looking for. And, as Guenther said, it’s not down to us to decide.”

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff has been arguably Andretti’s biggest critic, stating that the team would need to increase the value of the sport by more than what it takes away so its rivals are not financially penalised for the additional competition.

He is not alone in that view, with only McLaren and Alpine having offered public support, though privately it’s understood others are in favour of a new team.

There have even been suggestions that Formula 1 itself is more interested in trying to lure the likes of Volkswagen into the sport in a full factory capacity than a customer operation as Andretti will invariably, at least initially, be.

Porsche is expected to announce a partnership with Red Bull in the coming months, once the 2026 power unit regulations are finalised.

Audi is also tipped to enter, with the four-ringed marque reportedly looking for a more involved relationship than its fellow VAG brand, which could see it acquire a team outright.

Formula 1 is expanding its fanbase significantly at present, with strong crowds recorded at most every event, while titles such as Drive to Survive continue to feed that growth.

Importantly, there has been a strong uptake in interest from the United States, highlighted by the addition of the Miami Grand Prix this year, and Las Vegas joining the calendar in an event promoted by Formula 1 itself from 2023.

McLaren has also tested Colton Herta in recent weeks as the sport strives to find its next American talent to tap into the world’s largest economy.

However, should that entry point come via a new team, rather than the sport’s own initiatives, it seems enthusiasm is rather more tempered.

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