Will Andretti/Cadillac birth a genuine American F1 team?

If you log onto Andrettiautosport.com, you’ll find seven vertical boxes that outline the different kinds of racing that Michael Andretti’s company is involved in: Extreme E, Formula E, the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, IndyCar, Indy Lights, the Supercar Championship and Super Copa.

In late 2021, Andretti made it public—actually, his father Mario Andretti inadvertently made it public—that Michael would like to add one more vertical box to that inventory: Formula 1.

Last February, when the buzz was at full din, I asked fellow IndyCar and IMSA team owner Bobby Rahal, an Indianapolis 500 winner and in 1978, a Formula 1 driver himself, what he thought about Andretti’s chances then of getting accepted into Formula 1’s gang-of-10 inner circle.

“I think, good luck,” Rahal said.

It wasn’t just money. Andretti, who also raced in F1, told me he had the $200 million entry fee, plus backing for starting a from-scratch F1 team, which could run five times more than that pricey entry fee. And, as you may know, Andretti was sent home with his tail between his legs.

F1 is a business, a lucrative one if you’re good at it. And the 10 teams in F1, which are mandated to field two cars apiece, saw no reason to split the pie eleven ways instead of ten. Several principals let it be known that they didn’t get the value Andretti would bring to the table that should cost them part of that pie.

Andretti-Coming-Soon
GM

That changed Thursday when the press release dropped: Michael Andretti and Cadillac would be joining forces in an attempt to join F1. Is anybody saying General Motors racing in F1 wouldn’t be value added? Anyone? Bueller? Crickets.

That doesn’t mean it’s a done deal, despite the admirably try-and-stop-us tone of the press release. Here’s Mark Reuss, GM president and a dedicated motorsports fan:

“General Motors is honored to team with Andretti Global on this historic moment in racing. We have a long, rich history in motorsports and engineering innovation, and we are thrilled with the prospect of pairing with Andretti Global to form an American F1 team that will help spur even more global interest in the series and the sport.”

Michael Andretti isn’t letting grass grow under his feet, either. Less than a week ago, he announced a partnership with Wayne Taylor Racing, which fields a championship team in IMSA, a division of the sport in which Andretti was already involved at a third-tier level. This deal with Taylor and Acura (not Cadillac, which also fields teams in IMSA’s new premiere Le Mans-bound GTP class) shows how diversified Andretti is.

Michael Andretti in racecar
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Let it not be forgotten—assuming you even knew this—that when Penske and Dodge parted ways in NASCAR, Andretti was going to go NASCAR racing with Dodge and Kurt Busch, even investing in a facility before Dodge suddenly pulled the plug. And Andretti came this close to bringing Volkswagen into NASCAR before that deal fell apart. And be aware that even as he was angling for an F1 invitation (that’s how it works, all 10 teams had to vote you in), he told me he’d still go NASCAR racing “if the right deal came along.”

Bottom line: Do not discount Michael Andretti. Do not discount Mark Reuss. Especially do not discount Michael Andretti and Mark Reuss.

The Andretti-Cadillac F1 team would be based in the U.S. with a facility in the United Kingdom. The team would have at least one American driver, which is one more than the other American team, Gene Haas’ Haas Formula LLC, has had in its seven years. That driver would most likely be Colton Herta, the 22-year-old Honda-powered Andretti IndyCar driver who has to be hoping he doesn’t age out before Andretti and Cadillac get permission to begin building their team.

Verstappen Redbull Racing Team Grand Prix de France 2022
Victor Lochon/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Unless they buy an existing team, that is—a possibility, and you have to think Gene Haas may be tired of spending money on a perennial backmarker. He might relish selling his seat at the table for GM money, though Haas flatly turned down an Andretti offer last year. It could be 2025 before an all-new team can get up to speed.

Andretti’s backers last February were, he told me, not a group of investors, but “a couple of guys” known “a little bit” to the racing community.  Guesses ranged from the Steinbrenner family to Bill Sandbrook, former CEO of U.S. Concrete. If they are still involved, plus General Motors’ clout and fat checkbook, it could all come together.

With three Grand Prix races in the U.S. (Austin, Miami, and soon, Las Vegas) and F1 riding an American wave begun by Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive TV series, it’s a way-past-perfect time for a truly American team. And if Andretti and Cadillac can’t make F1 sit up and listen, nobody can.

McLaren Miami GP
Peter J Fox/Getty Images

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Comments

    Interesting that it would be Cadillac. But maybe they’re trying to re-invent themselves (again) now that the majority of the population who only ever saw them as builders of the land yachts your grandpa drove are “aging out of the market” shall we say. They’re getting back into endurance racing, they’re bringing a slew of EVs, their online aesthetic is very “well-heeled youth” oriented… Interesting times.

    Look this is a serious game here. There is a lot of things going on and a lot of moving pieces not just in this team but F in general.

    Automakers are wanting to race EV products. How soon that happens may be up to how soon they get the tech and figure out how to do it. I imagine once they get the range to make a full race they will make the move. 2026? 2035? only the teams working on this know.

    The first hill is will GM be willing to foot the bill for F1 and stick with it. This can not be just a half hearted effort and then leave when results do not happen. GM needs to commit and stick with this if they are going to do it.

    So far we know Cadillac is going to use a supplier engine. This is either Renault or possibly a Honda at this point per talk. Note Andretti already has relations with Honda as does GM. This could offset the cost of Honda re entering the series with another team.

    As for chassis it will be from a supplier as GM and Andretti both do not have a chassis. I would speculate Dallara wild be the chassis as GM. Cadillac and Andretti have a relationship with them already in IMSA and Indy.

    There is a lot that still has to happen and there are a number of teams against this. But I expect due to the names and money they will find a way in.

    As for name Cadillac. Most teams in F1 are top tier names for most teams. Cadillac has decided with their move to EV they are going to offer more than warmed over Chevy based models Will it work? It can if they stick to it but Cadillac has had several good plans that were crushed before they got started. Again will GM stick to this?

    These Cadillac models will be global models and big in China, and the Middle East so the F1 image fits.

    Chevy will be at LeMans with the Corvette on several teams not just one moving ahead and we may see some kind of future Camaro raced in Europe and down under that may fit close to NASCAR rules. Testing will be done at this years race. A lower cost class could do well with team counts.

    As for Pontiac, Pontiac died a long time ago. GM in the past never knew what to do with them and cut their engineers off at the knees with anything they tried. After a number of years of restyled corporates models leading to the Aztec and Torrent and a number of FWD cars with no real performance I call it a mercy killing.

    They may come back some day but I feel they were killed before they were destroyed. Lutz has too little time and money to save them correctly.

    I am a GM guy but I will call it as it is. There has been too much disconnect between the Engineers and the Board. Mark gets it but he has been over ruled a number of time and I wonder will be able to keep the board engaged with this.

    One other thing. The Economy and dealers are in for a few tough years. Will GM remain stable like they have or struggle like others already are. Auto stocks are dropping at a number of companies and the first thing that gets cut is racing too often.

    Maybe you couldn’t see the tongue in my cheek with the Pontiac comment. But hey, they WERE the performance division, after all. 😏

    As a fan of F1 since the early ‘80’s, it is remarkable to see the sport mimic and amplify the entertainment aspect of its Netflix persona, while seeming to tolerate actual racing as a necessary evil.
    Drive to Survive is a joke. It is nothing more than F1 propaganda. All one has to do is watch Season 2 – the season of Covid and BLM – to see how the program was completely white-washed by F1.
    If Andretti/Cadillac don’t get in, I will likely be done with the sport and won’t feel one ounce of regret when all the casual fans generated by Drive to Survive move on to their next infatuation.

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