Andretti: Formula 1 entry would be ‘a nice Christmas present’

Michael Andretti hopes to learn about his team's Formula 1 entry 'before Christimas'

Michael Andretti hopes to learn about his team’s Formula 1 entry ‘before Christmas’

Michael Andretti hopes to learn whether his company will be granted a berth in Formula 1 “in the next couple weeks.”

The American has long been linked with a move into the sport’s premier class and was last year in negotiations to purchase what is currently the Alfa Romeo Sauber operation.

That fell apart and the Hinwil-based operation has since joined forces with Audi with a view to running its factory team from 2026.

Andretti, meanwhile, has continued to face an uphill task in getting an F1 operation off the ground.

He’s found little public support for the project from within the paddock though has gained the personal support of FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Andretti last week broke ground on an expansive new facility in Indianapolis that he hopes will one day house his company’s entire racing programme.

The IndyCar and IMSA programmes are set to be housed within the facility once it opens, as well as global commercial functions for its Formula E and Extreme E operations.

However, there is scope for that to increase down the track.

“This isn’t about IndyCar,” Andretti told the IndyStar at the time.

“With this, we want to do something that’s never been done before.

“We want to be in all forms of auto racing, from Le Mans to Monaco to the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. And eventually, in the future, we want it all to be under one roof.

“That’s our big goal, and we’ve got a lot of plans in the works to get there.”

The largest hindrance to Andretti’s expansion into F1 is the commercial model currently in place.

Chief among those considerations is how prize money is divided among current competitors.

Changes in recent years make that split more equitable than it has ever been, but it remains a split between 10 teams.

The addition of Andretti would see that pot divided by 11 instead, resulting in a reduction in prize money payments to the incumbent Formula 1 operations.

Teams are therefore hesitant to endorse any newcomer.

A provision exists such that a $200 million anti-dilution fee is payable should a new entrant be accepted into the championship. However, that is a one-time payment.

Andretti is understood to have access to suitable funding to launch its Formula 1 team, which Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested is a $1 billion exercise.

Speaking at the ground-breaking of his team’s new facility, Andretti thanked Mark Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Partners, an investment firm that currently has more than $282 billion of assets under management.

Walter is reportedly worth more than $5 billion and was among those who purchased the Chelsea Football Club earlier this year.

Exactly where Andretti’s application is up to is unclear, though the American hopes to have some sort of resolution before Christmas.

“We’re hoping in the next couple weeks. That would sure be a nice Christmas present,” he said.

Dan Towriss, CEO of Group 1001 which owns Gainbridge, a major sponsor of Andretti Autosport, shed further light on the situation.

“We’re confident in the plans and what this means for our future,” Towriss said.

“These plans run much deeper than a facility, and those are the plans we want them to see.

“I think a lot of times, the quotes that get pulled out [about the resistance to the operation’s F1 entry] don’t really tell the full story.

“There’s a lot of conversations going on, and we’re not trying to get out in front of anything or use the media as a tool to influence anything.

“They have an expectation on approach and decorum that people should take in dealing with them and we respect that.”

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