Motorsport icon rips ‘snobbish’ F1 over snub

Prospective Formula 1 team owner Michael Andretti has hit out at the “snobbish” establishment who have stifled his hopes of entering the world championship.

Last year, the Andretti family came close to buying a stake in the Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber squad until the Swiss outfit changed the terms of purchase.

Since then, the American team has sought to go out on its own and start from scratch. That, however, has been met with opposition from the incumbent regime.

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Should Andretti succeed in its bid to join the grid in 2024, that would dilute the payout pool between the teams by 10 per cent.

Andretti would also have to pay a $200 million entry fee to balance the revenue share, which father-son pair Mario and Michael are content to pay.

The biggest hurdle the aspiring Formula 1 team owners face is acceptance from the 10 teams currently on the grid.

That, by and large, has been met with a stony response, key opponents including Mercedes and Red Bull.

“It’s a very snobbish approach they’re taking,” Michael Andretti told QG.

“Ultimately, we’re going to bring more value than we’re going to take away.

“I think we have four or five that are definitely in our corner,” he added.

“But the others have their hand out: ‘What are we going to get out of it?’ That’s what it’s all about—and they’re all being short-sighted.

“I’m saying: ‘Okay, you can get that now, but what about what we think we can bring to the future?’ But they don’t care about that. They don’t care about the series. They only care about themselves. But that’s the F1 way—it’s always been that way.”

Andretti isn’t the only interested group in Formula 1.

Rumors are rife that Audi will buy into Sauber and Porsche could take a stake in Red Bull, though neither of those deals will add cars to the grid and dilute the cash pool.

Andretti has made no secret that a major push is the all-American element of his team.

Formula 1 has a state-side team, Haas, although neither of its drivers are American and its headquarters are split between the United Kingdom and the United States.

“I’m trying to remind [the teams] that there’s 350 million people in this country and that, yes, there’s been a spike in interest here with Drive to Survive, but that they shouldn’t be content with what they have. We’re just skimming the surface,” Andretti explained.

“They’ve captured the interest of all these new fans—but fans are a little fickle. They’re confident that they have the American audience now. But you need a hook to keep them in for the future. And we feel that we can be that hook.

“We’re a true American team, we get a true American driver. Now it’s, ‘Oh, there’s really something for the country to root for’. That’s where I think our value really comes in strong, to keep that fan that they just got.”

Andretti isn’t a total stranger to the Formula 1 scene.

In 1993 he raced for McLaren alongside an established legend of the sport, Ayrton Senna.

Andretti’s sole season in Formula 1 didn’t last the distance, finishing in the 13th race of the 16-round calendar before being replaced by Mika Hakkinen.

His final say would be third place at the Italian Grand Prix, his sole podium in Formula 1.

Although it’s been three decades since, little has changed in his opinion of the world championship.

“It was a definite European club,” Andretti recalls of his time in Formula 1 as a driver.

“And I’m getting the feeling it’s still the European club, the way we’re being treated. Because we would be a threat. The first real international team.

“I pretty much knew what we were getting into here. You’re swimming with the sharks. So, you better make sure you have your harpoon on you.

“I’m not naive about that. I was naive maybe when I went into it back when I was a driver, but probably because of that experience I’m not naive now.

“Everybody’s got their knife, and they’re ready to stab you in the back.”

Andretti Autosport currently competes in the IndyCar Series and has ties to Supercars a part-owner of Walkinshaw Andretti United.

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