Andretti Formula Racing, the racing team of former top American driver Michael Andretti, has taken a step forward in entering motor racing’s prestigious Formula 1 (F1) after having its bid approved by the FIA governing body.
In January, the FIA launched an application process for new teams to enter into F1 in 2025, 2026 (when new engine regulations take effect), or 2027.
The same month, Andretti Global, the parent company of Andretti Autosport, announced it had teamed up with US car giant General Motors (GM) in a bid to enter F1 under the famous Cadillac brand.
In a statement, the FIA said Andretti Formula Racing is the only applicant out of four being put forward to the third and final stage of selection, which involves gaining approval from F1’s rightsholders. All other teams were deemed not to have met the required criteria.
FIA president Monhammed Ben Sulayem said: “The FIA was very clear in establishing stringent criteria for entry from the outset of the expressions of interest procedure.
“Our objective, after rigorous due diligence during the application phase, was to only approve prospective entries that satisfied the set criteria and illustrated that they would add value to the sport.
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“The FIA is obliged to approve applications that comply with the expressions of interest’s application requirements, and we have adhered to that procedure in deciding that Andretti Formula Racing LLC's application would proceed to the next stage of the application process.
“Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfills the selection criteria that was set in all material respects.”
However, while Andretti Formula Racing has satisfied the FIA, its place on the F1 grid is not yet guaranteed.
On top of passing the FIA’s selection process, new entrants will need to overcome several hurdles, including a $200 million entrance fee required until the series’ Concord Agreement.
Under the existing agreement signed in 2020, the teams split the prize money awarded from F1’s revenue in 10 ways, meaning the addition of more teams could reduce their cut.
A dilution fee of $200 million, to be paid by any new entrant and split among the other teams, was written into the Concorde Agreement to combat any potential loss of earnings.
Andretti has previously said he is prepared to pay the $200 million fee to get his F1 operation up and running. Still, other team principles have remained skeptical that the amount will make up for the potential loss of revenue, leading to some questioning if the amount should increase to meet the current market rate.
Since the FIA opened the application process, the 10 current teams have remained lukewarm on the prospect of adding an 11th. F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali has consistently said any new outfit would need to bring a clear added value to the championship.
Responding to the FIA’s decision, F1 remained neutral, adding: “We note the FIA's conclusions in relation to the first and second phases of their process and will now conduct our own assessment of the merits of the remaining application.”
Andretti, meanwhile, said: “We appreciate the FIA's rigorous, transparent, and complete evaluation process and are incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to compete in such a historic and prestigious championship.
“The formation of this distinctly American team is an important moment of pride for all our employees and fans. We feel strongly that Andretti Cadillac's deep racing competencies and the technological advancements that come from racing will benefit our customers while heightening enthusiasm for F1, globally.”
Andretti has been vocal in lobbying the FIA governing body to expand the 20-car grid and has remained steadfast in his desire to enter F1 despite failing to buy into the Sauber-run Alfa Romeo entry in 2021.
He already has teams competing in IndyCar, Formula E, and Extreme E, and has recently started building a new team headquarters in Indiana, which is set to open in 2025.
Under the partnership with GM, the new Andretti Cadillac Racing team will operate out of Andretti's new Indiana facility, with a support facility in the UK. GM, meanwhile, will be the team’s engine and manufacture partner, with its Cadillac brand forming part of the entry.
Cadillac already has entries in the WEC and IMSA endurance racing categories.
If Andretti’s bid is successful, the team could join the grid in 2025 or join the Alfa Romeo/Sauber team recently purchased by Audi as entrants in 2026.
F1 will introduce a new engine formula in 2026, retaining turbo hybrid engines but significantly increasing the proportion of power produced by the electrical part of the engine and using synthetic, fully sustainable fuels.
Audi is currently developing a new engine with the new formula for its formal entry in 2026 and is already in the process of taking over Sauber.
It has hired former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl as the team’s new chief executive, who is responsible for getting the team ready for their entry in four years.
F1 has expanded its presence in the US since US-based Liberty Media took over commercial rights at the start of the 2017 season, adding the Miami Grand Prix to the calendar last year and the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which will debut this year.
The series currently has one American team competing in Haas.