Michael Andretti’s dream of becoming a Formula One team owner was dealt a significant blow Wednesday when the sport’s commercial arm rejected Andretti Global’s proposal to join the grid in 2025 or 2026. The door has been left ajar for Andretti to enter F1 with a General Motors-built engine in 2028, but for a team that has claimed it is ready to make its debut next year, four years on the sidelines will feel like an awfully long wait.
F1’s reasons, which were documented in a lengthy statement, boil down to a belief that an 11th team alone (i.e. without a power unit manufacturer) would not bring enough value to the sport to warrant the upheaval of its addition.
The underlying reasons were a combination of F1’s doubts over the competitiveness of the Andretti bid, the fact that it would rely on an existing F1 engine manufacturer being forced into a supply deal until GM is ready with its own engines, and the belief that “F1 would bring value to the Andretti brand rather than the other way around.” Part of the statement’s conclusion stated that F1 was unable to identify “any material expected positive effect” on the sport’s financial results as a result of the addition of Andretti to the championship in 2025 or 2026.
The series’ decision was in part based on Andretti’s responses to a series of questions about its application set out in what F1 called its process letter — a document sent to the applicant outlining the process for applying. Andretti submitted its responses to F1’s process letter questions on Oct. 24 but, according to F1, did not take up an opportunity to present its case at a proposed in-person meeting on Dec. 12.
F1 conducted an analysis of Andretti’s proposal by consulting key stakeholders, such as broadcasters, sponsors and circuits, which represent the vast majority of sport’s revenue stream. It went on to stress that its process did not consult F1’s 10 existing teams, which are known to be against Andretti’s addition for reasons largely of self-interest.
The primary argument from rival teams has been that Andretti’s arrival would dilute the prize fund derived from F1’s revenues and that the existing $200 million anti-dilution fee that Andretti would pay on entry to the sport has been set too low to adequately compensate them. However, the issues of prize-fund dilution and the anti-dilution…