In an exclusive interview by Motorsport.com, Michael Andretti said the clock is ticking on their need for an answer from the FIA as to if they will be allowed to join Formula 1 with a new Andretti team. In fact, Michael said he needs to know with a month if they have any hope of joining for the 2024 season.
In the past, the FIA moved at its own pace on decisions such as these and former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been quoted as suggesting that any serious team will need at least a billion dollars in reserve to seriously engage F1. It will be interesting to see if the new leadership, un Der the new team budget caps, operates with more alacrity and if the other teams all approve the new team in order to make a quick decision.
What I did find interesting is this continued notion that an American driver will make all the difference for growing the US fanbase.
“You look at the growth in ratings in the Netherlands because they’ve got a driver,” he said.
“There’s none here. If you get a good driver with a good following like Colton, I think they’ll be in great shape.
“To me it’s a no-brainer. I don’t know what the hold-up is, so hopefully they figure it out. The way we’re going to do it is going to be first class all the way. We’ve got big plans that will really be good for Formula 1.
“My backers are great, they’re in it to be competitive, they’re not just in it to say they’re in Formula 1. They’re sports guys, they’ve turned sports franchises around from where they weren’t competitive to then being competitive, so they know how to do this stuff.
“So it would be a shame if we couldn’t pull it off. It’ll be good for everybody.”
On one hand, you have two races in the US now (Austin and Miami) and there is no doubt Colton Herta has a nice following of fans. On the other hand, id having an American team or an American driver in F1 was all it took to grow ratings in the US, then that would have already been done by Haas F1 or Alexander Rossi, Scott Speed and others. Sure, perhaps Rossi and Speed didn’t have the following Herta has but would that make the difference?
As I have said since 2005 when we started this website and podcast, and the Netflix series Drive to Survive has proved, you have to take America to F1, not the other way around.
Andrettis is a very smart guy and knows the exposure Haas got from Drive to Survive (DTS) and he knows that having his name, an American team and an American driver would be an eye magnet for DTS and the team and sponsors would greatly benefit.
I’m all for it, the more the merrier but I wonder if buying Alpha Tauri from Red Bull, given Andretti’s connections with Honda, would be easier or perhaps buying Haas now that they are politically divorced from their Russian sponsors.
If Andretti does roll his own, then perhaps a Renault engine supply might be a lower cost to entry for a lump and gearbox combination or perhaps they could get Ferrari or Mercedes to supply but it seems that would be less likely. I say that but I am completely void of any knowledge of Michael’s relationship with either manufacturer so perhaps it’s possible.
I have to think that an all-new Andretti team will be very interesting. Will it be a Dallara chassis like Haas? A Renault, Ferrari or Mercedes engine supply? Apart from Colton, what pay driver would they bring in? Two Americans or just one? I fI were Michael, I might ask ross Brand and Pat Symonds what they are planning on doing now that they are seemingly leaving F1 as their new technical regulations are completed. What if Michael got together with his old friends Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore to create a new juggernaut in F1 for the next era? Surely those two could bring in sponsors, relationships and resources?
Who knows? Michael has a terrific racing operation as it is with very smart people so he may just take the Haas route to F1 and hope they fare better. On that vein, I would urge him not to bring Rich Energy on board as a title sponsor.