Mario Andretti claims Liberty Media CEO threatened to block F1 entry

Mario Andretti claims Liberty Media CEO threatened to block F1 entry

Mario Andretti has stated that Liberty Media boss Greg Maffei said he will do everything in his power to stall Andretti Global’s F1 entry bid.

The ongoing drama surrounding the American team’s prospective F1 entry took a new turn when Mario Andretti claimed that Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei had explicitly stated that he would personally block the team’s attempt.

This comes after Andretti attended an invite only event at the Palm Club during the Miami Grand Prix weekend. There, he met F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who inquired about the 1978 world champion’s trip to Washington, where he was scheduled to give a statement outside the Capitol about his son’s team bid to join the Formula 1 grid.

In an interview with NBC News, Andretti detailed his encounter with Maffei, whose Liberty Media owns the commercial rights to Formula 1 and is the parent company of FOM. According to him, Maffei said something that he “couldn’t believe” during the talk.

He also revealed that he was talking to Domenicali at the Palm Club’s invitation-only breakfast function when Maffei approached to interrupt.

“I was asked to go there,” Andretti told NBC. “And just as I was trying to explain that to Stefano, Greg Maffei, Mr. Maffei, broke in the conversation and he said: ‘Mario, I want to tell you that I will do everything in my power to see that Michael never enters Formula 1.'”

Andretti clarified that Maffei left after that and hasn’t gotten in touch ever since.

“I could not believe that,” admitted Mario. “That one really floored me. We’re talking about business. I didn’t know it was something so personal.

“That was really… oh, my goodness. I could not believe it. It was just like a bullet through my heart.”

NBC however claims that a source close to Liberty Media provided a another account of what happened.

“Andretti approached Greg at the breakfast to have a discussion with him,” said the source, who demanded anonymity, and added that Maffei had told Andretti that the application to enter F1 in 2025 or 2026 had been rejected for good business reasons.

The development comes after the House Judiciary Committee opened an investigation into the matter recently, and a group of senators is urging the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to open an antitrust investigation into what they believe to be anti-competitive practices intended to shield the (primarily) European teams from American competition.

“It is possible that such a refusal to deal – especially if orchestrated through a group boycott – could violate U.S. antitrust laws,” the senators wrote.

“Last year, F1 hosted three races in America, in Miami, Las Vegas, and Austin, while no other country hosted more than a single race.

“Clearly there is a financial incentive to adding an American team to F1’s roster, and there is no reason they should be blocked unless [Formula 1 management] is trying to insulate its current partners from competition.”

Without question, the move infuriated F1 and its owners. However, Andretti maintains that he did not escalate the matter to Washington; rather, they contacted him following a Red Bull demonstration run in the nation’s capital that piqued their interest in the sport.

“I did not initiate that,” he insisted.

Regardless of the veracity of the Miami incident or the conclusion of the lawmakers’ investigations, Andretti remains optimistic that a resolution can be found.

“We’re bringing something of value,” he said. “It’s a big investment in the sport that we love or sport that’s our job and our passion. It’s a long-term commitment.

“We’ve done everything that needs to be accomplished, needs to be done to earn a spot in Formula 1. What else do you want us to do?”

On the other hand, this is not the only incident that has landed Maffei in political pressure. The 63-year old who is also the chairman of Live Nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster, is set to face an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department this week.

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