Michael Andretti © Gallo Images
Michael Andretti on Friday hit back at negativity surrounding his family racing team’s bid to join the Formula One grid and said their arrival would improve the sport’s popularity and attract more sponsorship.
Andretti and his father Mario, who was the F1 world champion in in 1978, told Sky Sports F1 they remained fully committed and “very excited” at the prospect of an entry to the 2025 or 2026 world championship.
Their team entry to become the 11th in the pit lane recently received clearance and support from the sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), but it still requires backing from the commercial rights holder, Formula One Management, owned by Liberty Media, and the current teams.
“We are very excited about it,” said Michael Andretti.
“Thanks to the FIA for such a really vigorous test in which we came top in every category. It showed us we are there. And we have great fans’ support too which has been overwhelming.
“We are very excited. We think we really have something to offer to F1 fans.
“This has been our whole life and we want to compete with the best in the world and to beat the best in the world.”
Despite receiving clearance from the FIA, Andetti has faced negativity in the comments made by many existing F1 teams who have expressed anxiety at the prospect of suffering a drop in revenue by sharing the sport’s profits with an additional competitor.
“I don’t know why there is this pushback,” said Michael. “It’s a mystery to me. We want to bring more than we take away. Just look at the fans’ surveys.”
He said he had received expressions of interest in Formula One from a number of American companies not currently involved.
“I think we can help improve the popularity in the US from where it is today,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of companies that are not in this series right now that have already contacted us that are quite interested so that, once we get the approval, that they want to talk to us, so I disagree with that (claims they will reduce revenue).”
“F1 is the Olympics of motor sport,” said Mario, now 83. “I dreamed of being an F1 driver and luckily I accomplished more than I had hoped for… Now I want to spend my life alongside him (son Michael) and in our own hospitality!
“It’s been our life for so long. This is it. It’s how we make a living. It’s how I have fed my family, and him, since day one!”
They suggested that they would choose a driver line-up that included one Amercan and one experienced F1 driver to ‘mentor’ him.
If successful, Andretti would become the second American team in F1 along with Haas.