Formula 1 | A place for Michael Andretti and Cadillac?

F1 is already in the news thanks to a new team project that is far from unanimous, with the 2023 World Championship still weeks away from the unveiling of the cars and their return to the track.

The recent announcement of a F1 team project piloted by American Michael Andretti with the support of General Motors did not generate the enthusiasm many expected.

In fact, with the exception of Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) President Mohamed Ben Soulayem, many stakeholders in the Formula 1 community have expressed their reservations, even doubts, about the project’s chances of being implemented. . However, Andretti is one of the “royal” families of motorsport – his father Mario was the F1 world champion in 1978 – and he leads a company that participates in at least seven racing series in Formula E and especially the IndyCar series.

Michael Andretti, now 60 years old, has not achieved the same driving success as his father, despite 42 wins and a CART Series title. However, he has made a brilliant return to the management of Andretti Autosport, the organization he has led through its growth and now considers ready to join the big circus of F1.


Michael Andretti at the 2021 IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix

Instead, after an unsuccessful attempt to acquire the Sauber team, which was taken over by Audi, Andretti indicated that he wanted to acquire one of the two places still available in F1 (the field is limited to 12 teams).

However, he was quickly told that he would have to get the manufacturer’s support, which explains his connection to General Motors through the Cadillac brand.

It is in this context that Ben Soulayem welcomed the possible arrival of the American giant on his Twitter account, good news at a time when F1 is fully expanding in the United States, with at least three events planned for 2023. however, it was frowned upon by several key figures in F1, who saw it as an intrusion into a file in which the FIA ​​normally plays only a secondary role.

FOM (Formula One Management, owned by Liberty Media) manages F1 together with the teams. The FIA, which leases its rights, is only there to arbitrate conflicts. Since his election in December 2021, Ben Soulayem has been more active and more vocal than his predecessors. His interventions quickly exposed the power struggle and fragile balance surrounding F1’s control.

Despite themselves, Andretti and Cadillac found themselves at the center of these conflicts, and many speakers did not hesitate to highlight the “weaknesses” of their candidacy.

Many doubt that the Andretti-Cadillac team is strong enough to compete in F1.

While all the teams are based on the Old Continent, most of them in Great Britain, we are also interested in the intention to establish the team in Europe only with a “satellite” in the USA.

It is important to remember that Cadillac was initially only going to be a sponsor, a convenient way to get a lot of visibility without investing hundreds of millions in development, like Ferrari or Mercedes, is with cars equipped with Renault engines.


Money is also the main argument of many opponents of Andretti’s project. Any new team currently has to pay an anti-dilution amount of 200 million to compensate other teams for lost revenue. Some consider this amount to be fundamentally insufficient and want to increase it to at least 600 million.

in an interview with Forbes, Michael Andretti condemned the greed of the teams: “They say that their income will decrease, we will monopolize all American sponsors. In fact, they only think about themselves, not what’s best for F1. »

In a recent press briefing, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he was positive about the possible involvement of General Motors, but he reminded that F1 is increasingly prosperous and the new team must provide the growth that all other teams need to find. they are better off.

In this context, the Andretti-Cadillac candidacy may not be the only one, and the competition promises to be fierce with the arrival of both Audi and Porsche already planned.

And we are increasingly talking about the projects of Ford, another American manufacturer with a solid pedigree in F1.

It is clear that Andretti will not be able to bypass the long selection process and enter Formula 1 as early as 2024, as he has expressed his wish. It remains to be seen whether he will have the patience and arguments to achieve his goal.

Musical chairs upstairs

More than the change of driver, the actions of the team managers in the off-season have attracted attention. At least four teams have new principals, the most spectacular departures being Mattia Binotto, who was apparently forced to resign from Ferrari, and Frédéric Vasseur from Sauber-Alfa Romeo to the Scuderia. The Frenchman has long experience in motorsport – he notably managed Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in F2 before becoming Renault team boss – and has often been seen as better equipped than his predecessor to bring order to the management of a mixed team. It was Andreas Seidl who took his seat at Sauber to prepare for Audi’s arrival in 2026, leaving the reins of McLaren to his right-hand man, ex-Ferrari employee Andrea Stella. The final act in this game of musical chairs is James Vowles, the Williams team boss after Jost Capito was “fired”. He was a close partner of Toto Wolff at Mercedes. If we add the arrivals of Otmar Szafnauer (Alp) and Mike Krach (Aston Martin) at the beginning of 2022, more than half of the teams have changed managers in less than a year!

Michael Marois, Press

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