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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Andretti and Cadillac: Power struggle for billions: Formula 1 fights for newcomers

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With the help of what was once the world’s largest car manufacturer, ex-racing driver Michael Andretti wants to get a place in Formula 1. The resistance of many racing teams enrages the boss of the world association.

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Formula 1 is heading for a power struggle in the dispute over expanding the starting field. The US project by Michael Andretti and Cadillac, with the support of the world association boss, is pushing for admission to the exclusive club of Formula 1 teams. But the majority of the ten current racing teams do not want to share the growing billions in revenue with newcomers, and the bosses of the racing series are also stepping on the brakes.

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The President of the International Automobile Federation Fia, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, made his displeasure with the resistance from the premier class public in an unusual step via his private Twitter account. Ben Sulayem said he was “surprised by the negative reactions” to the plans of former Formula 1 driver Andretti. The interest of large car manufacturers such as Cadillac’s mother General Motors in Formula 1 must be “encouraged”, demanded the Fia boss.

The admonition of the top rule guard should leave the team bosses unimpressed. It’s just too much money. A newcomer would currently have to bring 200 million dollars (around 186 million euros) as compensation for the established teams. This is intended to mitigate the losses of the racing teams if the marketing income is shared by eleven teams instead of the previous ten. 20 million dollars per team – that’s obviously not enough for most.

Boom in the US market

The value of the Formula 1 brand and the amount of income from rights sales and advertising contracts have recently increased massively thanks to the boom in the US market. Many industry experts therefore consider a compensation payment of at least 600 million dollars to be appropriate. “Money will be an important factor in the end. It would be unfair to let other teams pay indirectly for the newcomers,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner last year.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also referred to the massive investments by the Swabian car manufacturer and emphasized: “The value of Formula 1 is that there is a limited number of licensees. And we don’t want to dilute this value by simply adding teams. ” The question always arises with newcomers: “What do you bring to the show?”

But Andretti doesn’t want to be brushed off. His attempt to buy into the Sauber racing team failed in 2021. With General Motors, once the world’s largest car manufacturer, as a partner, the former McLaren driver and son of ex-world champion Mario Andretti now sees the way to Formula 1 paved. At the latest with the new technology regulations from 2026 it could be so far, Andretti is even aiming for an earlier entry. “I believe that 1000 percent,” said the 60-year-old.

Andretti sees all the requirements fulfilled and his project “clearly ahead of the competition”. In the US state of Indiana, his motorsport company is building a large new racing factory. In addition, he has already begun to recruit staff with Formula 1 experience, said Andretti.

Formula 1 reserved

The response of the Formula 1 management to the pithy sayings of the ex-racing driver remained cool. “We all want to ensure that the world championship remains credible and stable. Every new potential applicant will be scrutinized to meet such requirements,” said the top of the racing series. Every new competitor not only needs the approval of the world association, but also of Formula 1, it said.

Only the Alpine and McLaren teams recently assured Andretti of their support for an entry. Formula 1 Managing Director Stefano Domenicali is said to have been displeased that Andretti made representations to all team bosses at the race in Miami and wanted to persuade them to give written approval for his plans. That’s not how you do business in the racing series, Domenicali signaled to the American, the BBC reported.

The fact that the Fia President is now taking Andretti’s side could further deepen the rift between the world association and the racing series. Formula 1 defends itself against the Fia’s interference in day-to-day business and has long wanted to push back the influence of the umbrella organization on important decisions. The conflict over the starting field could become the catalyst for a violent rift.

Source: Stern

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