Formula 1’s decision to reject Andretti Global’s bid to join the series can be described in any number of words.
Hypocritical. Cowardly. Lazy. Greedy. Thoughtless. Idiotic. Stupid. Moronic. Corrupt.
But the word that I prefer among any is fearful.
Before I get into the meat of this very complicated situation, I should clarify exactly how a lot of this works.
The FIA Formula 1 World Championship, as we all know it, consists of three separate parties. The first is the FIA, the sporting regulation body that runs F1 and several other motorsport series around the world. The FIA is a non-profit organization that is essentially the world authority on driving.
As an example of the FIA’s reputation in the sporting world, it honored the IOC Russian ban on athletes in world competitions a few years ago; Nikita Mazepin competed under a world flag instead of a Russian one. Had motorsport been approved for the 2028 Olympic Games, the FIA would have been the competition’s organizers.
The next party that should be identified here is Formula One Management, colloquially known as FOM. The FOM are the commercial rights holders of the series, as the FIA gave up those rights to the company as part of a 100-year agreement that began in 2001. They handle the commercial elements of the series, including prize money allocation, scheduling, signing new races (with circuits conforming to the FIA’s rules on safety grounds), and producing the world television feed.
The final party here is the 10 individual teams (nine, with Red Bull owning two). The teams may not seem to have power in this system, but they do, as there would be no legitimate F1 without them. And as they can grind the series to a halt by not signing on to the Concorde Agreements that are decided every few years, they must be kept happy.
Not to mention that one team, Ferrari, is bigger than F1 and has the power and influence to prove it. The last FIA president prior to the current one was a former Ferrari team principal and CEO (Jean Todt). The current FOM president, Stefano Domenicali, is a former Ferrari team principal.
FOM and the teams have set barrier after barrier after barrier for Andretti. And yet, Andretti has done nothing but hurdle over every single one in the last two years.
First and foremost: Andretti has been approved by the FIA for entry. By all accounts, the FIA process is a much more thorough and rigorous review than the one done by FOM….