Those responsible for Andretti-Cadillac's planned F1 project must tremble. For a quick decision to enter the premier class, every step has to be right. The problem: Andretti has no time.
The dispute over the possible entry of the US racing team Andretti together with engine partner Cadillac is still smoldering behind the scenes of the premier class. FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem had already given his blessing to the plans and announced that the official application process would be completed quickly.
But the Formula 1 bosses tend to step on the brakes. Although Andretti seems to meet all the criteria for entry, there is not much euphoria among the rights holders of Liberty Media. The teams are also not very enthusiastic about having to share the bonus pot with another competitor in the future. Although the compensation of $20 million per team would compensate for the loss of four to five million dollars a year in the medium term. With the exception of McLaren and Alpine, all racing teams are said to be rejecting the potential newcomer.
The fronts have been hardened on this matter for a long time. F1 management was irritated that they were not informed before Andretti and Cadillac went public with their plans in a large press conference in early January. A few brash statements by racing team boss Michael Andretti also caused upset. The American had publicly accused the other teams of greed.
Formula 1 vs. FIA
The F1 bosses have also been at loggerheads with the FIA since President Ben Sulayem described a possible $20 billion price tag for the premier class as too high and demanded a say in a possible sale. The F1 legal advisors then sent an angry letter to the world association in Paris, which stated that such interference in commercial matters would not be tolerated.
The sticking point in this dispute lies in the fact that the world association is no longer allowed to veto a change of ownership. According to information from auto motor und sport, the corresponding “Don King clause” was removed from the contracts as part of the complete takeover by Liberty in 2017. The new owners could therefore sell the business without consultation if they wanted to.
There were also arguments about joining Andretti. Ben Sulayem had publicly claimed that there would be no other suitors. But that was also immediately denied by those responsible for Formula 1. It was officially said that all interested parties should be given the same opportunities. At least two other serious candidates with motorsport experience were talked about in private. In addition, there is said to be interest from two other applicants.However, they will hardly meet the criteria that the world association has imposed on all newcomers.
Decision is delayed
The question now is how long the decision will be delayed. Andretti had hoped for the answer before the start of the season, as the FIA initially promised. In the official registration process , which was launched by the sports authority at the beginning of February, it is promised that the exam will be completed by the end of June if the application is submitted by the deadline (by April 30th).
The FIA has officially announced two more places for the 2025 season. However, there is no guarantee that these will be filled, even if the association gives a positive assessment. The Parisian authority has admitted in its list of requirements that a final decision also depends on the approval of F1 management and the other teams. From the F1 headquarters in London it can be heard that the decision on possible newcomers would rather wait until the new Concorde Agreement for the 2026 season is in place.
The Formula 1 framework agreement that the rights holders conclude with the ten teams not only regulates the distribution of the bonuses, but also determines how high the so-called "anti-dilution fee" is. This registration fee must be paid by newcomers to the other teams as compensation for the expected loss of revenue. At the moment it is still at 200 million US dollars. Experts expect that amount could triple due to the appreciation of the teams and the boom in Formula 1.
But not only the new registration fee could become a problem for Andretti. Time is also a factor that speaks against the US team. It can take another one to two years for all teams to agree to the Concorde Agreement. An agreement is expected at the end of 2023 at the earliest, but more likely in the middle of 2024. This would almost rule out entry into the major rule reform in the 2026 season. But Andretti can't wait that long.
The Americans have already committed a lot of staff to the new F1 project. Without a fixed entry date, the hired employees are at risk of leaving. In addition, the workforce and the expansion of the infrastructure that has already begun are eating up a lot of money. As long as you are not allowed to compete in Formula 1, there is no income.
One can only hope that Andretti has staying power. Or that the application is simply so convincing that the three parties can no longer refuse in June. Only after filling out the application will you know what Andretti and Cadillac can really bring to the table.