Michael Andretti‘s attempt to buy into the Sauber/Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN may have fallen apart, but he is not giving up on entering Formula One. A fairly typical Friday was upended when his father, the great Mario Andretti, casually revealed on Twitter that Michael intends to start his own F1 team and has filed paperwork with the FIA for entry. Known as Andretti Global, the team hopes to début in 2024.
“Michael has applied to the FIA to field a new F1 team starting in 2024,” Mario tweeted. “His entry, Andretti Global, has the resources and checks every box. He is awaiting the FIA’s determination.”
Unexpected surprise and nonchalantness of the tweet aside, the announcement sent shockwaves throughout the racing world. Andretti, one of the biggest names in racing history, running an F1 team? You could not get any better than that.
It is not like Michael would be joining the top level of open-wheel racing without ownership experience either, as his Andretti Autosport team is a four-time NTT IndyCar Series and five-time Indianapolis 500 winner. Andretti, the 1991 CART champion, also runs Avalanche Andretti in Formula E, and co-owns Walkinshaw Andretti United in the Repco Supercars Championship and Andretti United XE in Extreme E with United Autosports. United is owned by McLaren Racing head Zak Brown, and Andretti raced for the team during his lone F1 season in 1993. McLaren also collaborated with Andretti to field an IndyCar for Fernando Alonso in the 2017 Indianapolis 500.
Andretti Autosport has also seen successes in other disciplines like sports cars, having fielded an Acura factory team in the American Le Mans Series, and rallycross, winning three Red Bull Global Rallycross titles with Scott Speed. The Andretti name even appears in Mexican touring cars, where Andretti co-owns Andretti Jourdain Autosport alongside former CART rival Michel Jourdain Jr. in the Super Copa Championship, and the Gallant Andretti LMP3 and Short Track division led by his nephew Jarett.
Of course, starting an F1 team is not an easy endeavour. An entry fee of $200 million is required and is virtually an effort to protect the earnings of existing teams, though Andretti has made it clear that money is not a concern and there is the possibility of it being waived. In fact, Andretti told The Indianapolis Star that the Global has already secured a deal with an engine builder that he did not name. Many of the major suppliers like Mercedes and Ferrari already have plenty of customer teams in addition to themselves, while Andretti Autosport’s IndyCar engine manufacturer Honda left F1 after the 2021 season (though the Japanese company is still constructing power units to help Red Bull’s transition into making its own engine programme).
Other details elucidated in his interview with The Indy Star include Andretti Global planning to have a main headquarters in England while cars are built in a new facility in Indianapolis near Andretti Autosport’s shop. With F1 operations primarily based in Europe, this arrangement would allow Andretti Global to be close to its sister open-wheel team while still being close to the rest of the F1 world. Fellow American stable Haas F1 Team also follows this idea, though inverted from Andretti as its main facility is in North Carolina near its NASCAR counterpart Stewart-Haas Racing while a forward base is in Banbury.
Andretti had hoped to purchase Alfa Romeo as soon as 2022, but “control issues” resulted in the deal breaking down. Had it occurred, many expected Andretti Autosport driver Colton Herta to make the jump to F1; the 21-year-old has become one of IndyCar’s brightest young stars with six wins and top-five points finishes in his last two seasons. Of course, assuming he keeps his pace and things work out for the team, many expect him to be a prime candidate to join Andretti Global by 2024.
Barring a shutdown or sale of Haas, Andretti Global’s arrival in 2024 would provide the F1 grid with two American teams for the first time since 1976 when Parnelli Jones and Roger Penske—both IndyCar legends—had F1 stables. Under the leadership of U.S.-based Liberty Media, F1 has taken steps towards growing its awareness in the country, with the introduction of the Miami Grand Prix for 2022 alongside the existing United States Grand Prix in Austin, as well as rumours of third American race in Las Vegas.