According to Michael Andretti, the current generation of F1 teams think that his organization is run by “a bunch of hillbillies.”
Entering the political fray within Formula 1, Michael Andretti has taken a swipe at the F1 teams for believing his American team is made up of “a bunch of hillbillies.”
Andretti’s presence in Formula 1 is still up in the air while the sport performs its own evaluation, even though the FIA gave the American organization the all-clear to join the grid as the eleventh team.
However, while the team led by Formula One chief Stefano Domenicali makes its evaluation for the entry, the existing teams have persisted in publicly expressing their opinions regarding Andretti’s possible arrival.
Andretti’s proposed entry into Formula 1 in 2025 or 2026 has encountered strong resistance from the current teams, despite this and the fact that the team has achieved considerable success in the multiple series in which it currently competes.
IndyCar, Indy NXT, IMSA, and Formula E are among the series in which Andretti fields teams; the company also maintains connections in other series.
The main point of contention has been the cost of welcoming a new team with the current teams opposed to splitting the prize money amongst the 11 teams.
Additionally, they have maintained that the value of the current franchises would be diminished by the arrival of a new team, sometimes going so far as to mention their own Covid struggles and how they are now reaping rewards as a team for overcoming the challenging period.
However, Andretti finds the fierce resistance his organization has faced perplexing.
“We have got to realise what we’re getting into,” Andretti said. “We’re getting into a lot of politics and things like that. It’s just the way it is. And we’ll just deal with it.
“I didn’t think it would be this hard to get in but we’ll prove our weight to get in.
Andretti thinks the existing teams don’t realize the potential of the American team, and he sees his team as nothing more than an asset to Formula 1 as a whole.
“First of all, they think that we’re a bunch of hillbillies over here. And we don’t know what we’re doing.
“But because we have a lot of experience in racing, we might come at it from a different angle than everybody else, and it might work.
“We feel that adding more cars, I think is only going to help the sport,” the former Formula 1 driver added. “Yeah, it’s going to take a piece of the pie, prize money and things, but we feel like we can bring more to it than what we’re going to take out of the pie.”
Andretti defended himself with an emphasis on the Haas team, who are currently at the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship.
Haas is the most recent Formula 1 squad to join the grid; its owner Gene Haas views his organization as America’s F1 team despite having bases not only in Kannapolis, North Carolina, but also in Banbury, Oxford and Maranello, Italy.
The Haas Formula 1 team setup also involves the team using Ferrari architecture and third parties in developing their cars.
“They had no infrastructure, they can’t build their own car,” said Andretti regarding Haas.
Andretti thinks that by taking on the task of developing its car from the ground up, will stimulate interest in the sport within the US.
“We have got to build our own car, right, and if you saw how big of a deal it is…I mean, it’s a big, big undertaking,” he added. “There are documents, and it is probably I don’t know, 500 pages of stuff.
“In IndyCar you buy the car and you’re in the ballpark right away and in F1, you’re literally building a car from scratch.
“I think having a true American team: you have an American driver, you have a car that’s built here in the US, and you have an American engine built here.
“I mean, I think that’s going to create a ton of interest for the US.”
Andretti is reported to have been working on a 2023 specification design for use in wind tunnel simulations, and the much-discussed support from General Motors and Cadillac indicates that an American power unit will be available in the future.
Andretti is also sure that his team will do well if they are granted the opportunity to join the Formula 1 grid.
“We’re still not there yet, but we feel like we have a fantastic plan,” he said. “We have GM and Cadillac behind us, which is huge.
“So, I think we have all the ingredients to be a competitive team one day and then hopefully we can come to terms with Formula 1 to be able to be there.
“If we do get in there, it’s going to be great for the sport.”
While Andretti argues his case, Formula 1 CEO Domenicali maintains that the evaluation process is still in progress.
“This is a process that is in place,” Domenicali said. “As always, we don’t have to give any anticipation. The FIA did its right role of doing its first assessment and now we’re in the process of doing our assessment on the commercial, marketing side.
“As soon as this process will be finished, of course, we will inform everyone accordingly – first of all of course sharing this info in the first instance with the FIA.”