FIA President advises Andretti Cadillac to acquire existing team for F1 entry

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Owens
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In a surprising turn from his earlier stance, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has recommended Andretti Cadillac to “go and buy another team” in order to rejoin the Formula One grid.

Although the Emirati has spearheaded attempts to increase the number of teams in Formula One by initiating the Expression of Interest procedure in 2023 to seek proposals for new teams to enter the competition,

“We have a contract, and our contract says we have up to 12 teams. So, we are not breaking the rules. We are, on the contrary, fulfilling the rules,” he said last year.

He added that it was his goal to add Chinese and an American manufacturers to the grid. But when Andretti sent in their proposal to join the grid, it was rejected by F1/FOM, because they didn’t believe that Andretti would add value to the sport.

Ben Sulayem has subsequently changed his tune, telling Michael Andretti to buy an existing team rather than continuing his goal of joining the sport as an eleventh team.

“I have no doubt FOM and Liberty would love to see other teams as long as they are OEMs, I would advise [Andretti] to go and buy another team, not to come as the 11th team.

“I feel that some teams need to be refreshed. What is better? To have 11 teams as a number or 10 and they are strong? I still believe we should have more teams but not any teams. The right teams. It’s not about the number, it’s about the quality,” he said.

Yet, Ben Sulayem stated that, in theory, he would still like to welcome Andretti and General Motors, reasoning that the partnership would benefit F1 more than some of the existing teams on the grid.

This sudden shift in his stance regarding Andretti may be interpreted as an attempt to reconcile with FOM and Liberty Media, considering that the two parties have a very tense relationship due to their disagreements over the course of time. F1 and the FIA recently agreed to a new strategic plan.

If General Motors is prepared to provide a works power unit, F1 has formally left its door open for Andretti to reapply in 2028. However, Andretti has not given up and has kept up its relentless pursuit of joining in 2026.

They have opened a base at Silverstone and have hired Pat Symonds, a former F1 technical director and World Championship winner with Benetton and Renault, as their consultant.

The ongoing saga between Andretti and F1 isn’t over. Since their submission was rejected, the team has now involved a number of US senators and congressmen challenging F1’s denial on legal grounds by citing anti-trust statutes.