Andretti Cadillac Pushing to Get Off Formula One Sidelines

Members of the U.S. House and Senate have asked the Biden Admin. to order an investigation of “apparent anti-competitive actions that could prevent two American companies, Andretti Global and General Motors, from producing and competing in Formula One.”

Joseph Szczesny

May 28, 2024

5 Min Read
Andretti and Cadillac not giving up on bid to join Formula One circuit.

After being foiled earlier this year, Andretti Cadillac’s push for a spot in Formula One is picking up some momentum again with the addition of new technical expertise and the application of some serious political muscle.

Andretti Cadillac says it has signed F1 veteran Pat Symonds to serve as “executive engineering consultant.” Symonds is the former technical leader of Formula 1 teams from Renault and Williams and was serving as F1’s chief technical officer.

“Pat’s keen understanding of aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics and F1 power units will be instrumental as we continue to build a competitive team,” says Andretti Global CEO Michael Andretti. “I believe his expertise has been pivotal in shaping the narrative of F1, and his vote of confidence in joining our effort speaks volumes.”

At the same time, Andretti Cadillac is getting support from key members of Congress.

According to The Hill, a publication that follows developments on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of senators has written to the Biden Admin. asking the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Formula One over a possible violation of U.S. antitrust law following the rejection of Andretti Cadillac’s application to join the series. F1 in January turned down Andretti Cadillac’s bid to join the grid in 2025 or 2026.

The letter signed by the seven senators follows a protest from U.S. House of Representatives members led by the Andretti racing organization’s home state of Indiana and Detroit-area representatives including Democrat Haley Stevens and Republican John James.

In a letter shared with WardsAuto, Stevens says: “We write to express our concerns with apparent anti-competitive actions that could prevent two American companies, Andretti Global and General Motors, from producing and competing in Formula One.

“This partnership, which includes GM and thousands of workers who we represent, would showcase exceptional engineering and design skills, including the production of the only American-built and -designed engine (power unit) in Formula One,” Stevens says in the letter, which was sent to the chief executive of Liberty One, the Colorado-based media company which owns the increasingly popular Formula One racing grid.

Michael Albano, spokesperson for Cadillac, says GM has no comment on the unfolding controversy over entrée into Formula One.

However, Andretti Global says: “We are grateful to the bipartisan members of Congress for their support in challenging this anticompetitive behavior. We remain committed to bringing the first U.S. works team and power unit to F1 and to giving American fans a home team to root for. It is our hope that this can be resolved swiftly so that Andretti Cadillac can take its rightfully approved place on the grid in 2026. Our work continues at pace.”

According to his résumé, Symonds has been F1’s chief technical officer since 2017 and was instrumental along with former managing director Ross Brawn in the creation of the latest technical regulations, which date from 2022.

Recently, Symonds has been working alongside the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the motorsport governing body which includes F1 under their purview, on new technical rules that will be introduced in 2026. These are set to be published at the end of June.

It had been agreed within F1 some time ago that Symonds would step down from his role once his work on the 2026 rules was complete, according to press accounts following the Andretti announcement.

GM President Mark Reuss, in confirming the original deal with Andretti Global for a Formula One team, says F1's increasing popularity (and desire for continued audience growth) in the U.S. is intriguing.

“At some point, GM would have loved to have gotten into Formula One,” he says. “For various reasons, it was pretty tough to do that. Whether the leadership or the amount of money at that time or where the economy was or where the company was.

“It’s very, very exciting for us to be with Andretti. And if given the opportunity, GM and Cadillac will compete with the very best at the very highest levels with passion and integrity that will continue to elevate the sport for the FIA and race fans around the world,” says Reuss.

Last year FIA invited applications for a spot on the F1 grid. The proposed Andretti-Cadillac bid was approved by the FIA, but it was at the next stage of the process – consideration by Formula One Management, the group’s main operating company – where the bid was rejected.

Meanwhile, GM’s archrival, Ford, plans to make a Formula One comeback when new engine regulations are introduced for 2026.

Unlike GM, which has never had a Formula One team, Ford’s involvement in F1 stretches all the way back to the 1960s and the DFV or Double Four-Valve engine, built in partnership with British engineering firm Cosworth, which took 155 wins in 262 races between 1967 and 1985.

From its first title wins with Graham Hill and Lotus in 1968 to its most recent with Michael Schumacher and Benetton in 1994, Ford has played a part in 10 constructors’ championships and 13 drivers’ championships – making it the third most-successful engine manufacturer in F1 history.

“The 2024 season is underway, including our return to China for the first time since 2019 and our third year in Miami which saw another incredible event demonstrating the growing strength of F1 in the U.S.,” says Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 president and CEO.“We are seeing continued momentum, both in financial performance and amplification of our fanbase, including through expanding our methods of fan engagement,” he says. “We have already announced our 24-race calendar for 2025, a landmark year that will mark the 75th anniversary of the FIA Formula One World Championship.”

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