Andretti gains US congressional inquiry into F1 exclusion

Mario Andretti went to Capitol Hill this week to seek assistance on Andretti Global’s exclusion from Formula 1. As it turns out, he got the attention of 12 bi-partisan supporters in congress who penned a letter for Liberty Media’s Greg Maffei asking why Andretti was not allowed in F1.

Autosport had the excerpts from the letter:

“In the letter, which is addressed to Liberty boss Greg Maffei, the Congress members “write to express our concerns with apparent anti-competitive actions that could prevent two American companies, Andretti Global and General Motors (GM), from producing and competing in Formula 1.”

It goes on to allege that FOM’s rejection of the application “appears to be driven by the current line-up of European Formula 1 race teams, many of which are affiliated with foreign automobile manufacturers that directly compete with American automotive companies like GM. It is unfair and wrong to attempt to block American companies from joining Formula 1, which could also violate American antitrust laws.”

“Participation of all Formula 1 teams including any American teams should be based on merit and not just limited to protecting the current line-up of race teams. This is especially true considering Formula 1’s growing presence in the United States, including three Grand Prix motoring [sic] racing events in Miami, Florida; Austin, Texas; and Las Vegas, Nevada.”

There are those who feel Andretti’s petitioning of congress for assistance is an aggressive move too far and on its surface, I would agree, but when you have invested the kind of money Andretti Global has and placed your reputation on the line with General Motors, I think they are to the point of bringing out the heavy weaponry.

The congress members have a point here as an American company, Liberty need to consider the Sherman anti-trust act. Although F1 is a global sport, they make the point that the teams are exclusive with US-based car manufacturers competitors and feel GM would be allowed entry as well. What is congress seeking from F1?

The 12 members of Congress have requested Liberty’s responses to the following questions by 3 May:

“Under what authority does FOM proceed to reject admission of Andretti Global? What is the rationale for FOM’s rejection, especially with respect to Andretti Global and its partner GM, potentially being the first American-owned and America-built race team?

  1. “The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 outlaws unreasonable restraints on market competition to produce the best outcome for the American consumer. How does FOM’s denial of Andretti Global and GM, American-owned companies, square with Sherman Act requirements, since the decision will benefit incumbent European racing teams and their foreign automobile manufacturing affiliates?

  2. “We understand that GM intends to re-introduce its Cadillac brand into the European market, which would support thousands of good-paying American automotive jobs, especially with Formula 1’s worldwide audience and its halo effect on its teams and sponsors. How much did GM’s and Andretti’s entrance into racing competition taking a portion of the racing market share and GM’s entry into the European market taking market share each play into the decision to deny admission to the Andretti Global team, given the public outcry of incumbent Formula 1 teams against a new American competitor?”

The letter ends with:

“We continue to exercise oversight on this matter, and with the appropriate Federal regulators, to ensure that any potential violations of U.S. anticompetition law are expeditiously investigated and pursued.”

I would imagine this has F1’s attention at this point but I can’t imagine those in F1 will be very pleased with the aggressive move by Andretti.

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Fabio

“It is unfair and wrong to attempt to block American companies from joining Formula 1, which could also violate American antitrust laws” Considering that there is already an American F1 team, and Liberty is American, this is just laughable. Also, doing a quick Google, there are 535 congress members, he managed to get 12 to sign off. Not a lot is it? Without wanting to offend any Americans here, from an external point of view, Andretti needs to get over himself. He took a gamble in investing a lot of money before he had the go-ahead and now he’s trying… Read more »

Matt

Liberty is an American company with Multitudes of operations in the U.S. including 3 G.P.’s that if they did not profit from immensely, then they wouldnt be the megalopolis that they are. As I have little interest in two (likely their most profitable) I fail to see why this is a bad tact. G.M. and A.T&T (Ma Bell) have both been found guilty of this very law in the U.S. and any company doing business in the U.S. is subject to it. The reason there are only 12 is thwt congresspeople in the U.S. are about as arrogant as the… Read more »

MIE

Whoever wrote the letter has no knowledge of the history of F1. This statement in particular: ‘What is the rationale for FOM’s rejection, especially with respect to Andretti Global and its partner GM, potentially being the first American-owned and America-built race team?’

I think Dan Gurney and Eagle probably predates any Andretti effort in F1, and Roger Penske may have something to say on the matter.

Paul Kiefer

I warned ’em. The moves that the FOM made were a barrier to entry, and now the US Congress is stepping in. That’s what happens when people don’t let other people in. Now they get to face this and probably the courts. This is not going to end well for Formula 1 and the FOM.

cragowc

Ah, Congress is stepping in…”We’re saved!”
<heavy sarcasm>