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Cadillac and Andretti launch F1 bid

1 year ago

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Edd Straw | Motorsport journalist


5 January 2023

General Motors has joined forces with Andretti Global to form a Formula 1 team that will compete under the Cadillac brand.

The new team will be run out of Andretti’s new headquarters in Indiana with technical support from GM’s North American facilities. It is also setting up an operational hub in Europe to run the cars where at least some of the design and development work will be housed.

An unnamed technical director has already been appointed, with the recruitment of experienced F1 personnel under way. The intention is to run an American driver at the earliest opportunity, with 22-year-old IndyCar ace Colton Herta the most likely candidate given he came close to a switch to F1 with AlphaTauri for 2023 and is on Andretti’s books.

GM is open to the possibility of getting involved with at least part of an F1 power unit development project in the future, but president Mark Reuss confirmed it has ‘a signed agreement’ with another engine supplier and will therefore not run its own engines.

Cadillac F1 Team

It has not confirmed which manufacturer, although Andretti had a deal in place with Alpine for a technical partnership that would have involved using Renault power units prior to linking up with GM. However, neither Andretti nor Reuss have ruled out the possibility of working with Honda.

Cadillac is unlikely to race before 2026, when F1 will switch to a new engine formula featuring a more powerful hybrid system, and still requires Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, to grant it an entry. Team owner Michael Andretti, son of motorsport legend Mario, is confident this will happen given the strength of its bid.

Andretti Global has been pushing for an F1 entry for the past year, but faced resistance from the FIA. Since talks began with GM, according to Andretti ‘four or five months ago’, its case has become more compelling.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced earlier this week that a formal process is being formulated to allow aspiring F1 teams to register their interest. That timing is not a coincidence, as GM is unlikely to have announced this project without being confident it will be permitted an entry following discussions with the FIA.

Cadillac F1 Team
FIA president Ben Sulayem and Andretti met at the 2022 Miami GP

‘We believe so,’ said Andretti when asked if he expects to get a deal over the line once the entry process is formally opened. ‘It’s still an FIA series and the president has definitely showed he really would like to have at least an 11th team on the grid. He is a racer and understands the importance of that for the series itself.

‘So we feel very confident that once the expression of interest goes out, having our great partnership with Cadillac we have a very, very good shot of checking every box and being able to be on the grid soon.’

Andretti and GM must also convince the existing 10 F1 teams of the merit of their candidacy, even though the FIA has the final say. Under the Concorde Agreement, the tripartite deal that binds together the teams, the FIA and commercial rights holder Liberty Media, newcomers must pay a $200million ‘anti-dilution’ fee given they will qualify for a slice of the share of F1’s revenue that is split between the teams. However, that fee can be waived should the existing teams agree a prospective new team will make a significant contribution to F1.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been vocal about the need for any prospective newcomer needing not only to prove it can put together a credible operation, but also add value to F1 through its wider activities. This project appears to satisfy those demands, especially given the strength of the Cadillac brand in North America and beyond.