US Judiciary launches investigation into Andretti’s F1 entry rejection

US Judiciary launches investigation into Andretti's F1 entry rejection

The tense situation surrounding Andretti Global’s unsuccessful attempt to join F1 will certainly continue as an investigation into the rejection has now been launched.

The chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee has launched an investigation into Liberty Media’s decision to reject Andretti’s application to enter Formula 1 in an escalation of the issue to political interest.

This comes after Formula One Management (FOM) rejected Andretti’s original proposal to join F1 in 2026 earlier this year arguing that an eleventh team would not significantly benefit the sport.

The team, owned by former F1 driver Michael Andretti, recently established a facility in Silverstone despite their unsuccessful bid with Michael’s father Mario revealing at the Miami Grand Prix that the team is moving forward with their plans.

A number of Congressmen wrote to F1 last week, seeking clarification on the Andretti decision and whether or not the company’s actions had placed unjustifiable restraints on market competition that might have violated US laws.

Now, Republican Jim Jordan has written to the F1 owners requesting an explanation of the decision-making process that has thwarted Andretti’s aspirations just a few days after Mario Andretti’s appearance on Capitol Hill.

The letter that American radio and television network NBC later received from Jordan detailed its request for documents and details on F1’s decision to deny Andretti a grid slot. The letter is addressed to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Liberty CEO Greg Maffei and Jordan writes that he needs answers to ensure that there was no unlawful ‘anti-competitive conduct’ taken in decision making.

The letter reads: “The Committee on the Judiciary is responsible for examining the sufficiency of federal competition laws to protect against monopolies and other unfair restraints on trade. Sports leagues, like Formula 1, operate in a notable area of antitrust law in which some degree of collusion is necessary for the creation of the product.

“However, when a sports league deviates from its rules and practices in a manner that reduces competition and depresses consumer interest in the product, the collusion may amount to anti-competitive conduct.”

Jordan stated that he did not agree with some of the justifications provided by F1 when they announced Andretti’s bid was rejected in January.

The letter continued: “The excuses put forward for denying Andretti Cadillac’s entry appear to be pretextual, arbitrary, and unrelated to Andretti Cadillac’s suitability to compete in Formula 1. For example, Formula 1 alleged that a new team could only add value to Formula 1 by ‘competing for podiums and race wins.’

“However, the FIA had already analysed—and approved of—the technical capabilities of Andretti Cadilac to compete among current teams, and most current teams in Formula 1 do not meet Formula 1’s standard of regularly competing for ‘podiums and race wins’

“Formula 1 also faulted Andretti Cadillac for attempting to use an existing engine manufacturer because it could ‘be damaging to the prestige and standing of’ Formula 1.

“At the same time, however, Formula 1 stated that if Andretti Cadillac used a new engine manufactured by General Motors in the team’s first year, a new engine would create a challenge for the new team. Formula 1 cannot have it both ways.

“The truth, as FIA President Muhamed Ben Sulayem explained, is that the rejection of Andretti Cadillac is ‘all about money.'”

The Committee believed there may have been anti-competitive behavior conveyed in the arguments made in the form of how an 11th club would hurt the interests of the current teams.

The letter added: “Weak teams want to be protected from competition to the detriment of consumers and an additional team would compete for prize money and sponsorships. If Formula 1 must hinder competition and harm consumers to protect failing competitors, then the entire Formula 1 model may be broken and the entity cannot hide behind the necessity of a sports league to pursue anti-competitive conduct.

“Delaying Andretti Cadillac’s entry into Formula 1 for even one year will harm American consumers to benefit failing Formula 1 teams.”

Jordan has asked F1 for records and a staff-level briefing regarding what transpired in an effort to support the Committee’s probe into the matter. He has also requested all correspondence and records pertaining to the process of assessing Andretti’s and the new team entries, as well as any information about F1’s resolution to deny its entry on January 31.

In addition, he has asked for all records and correspondence between F1 and the ten current teams regarding new team entries, as well as any correspondence related to the Concorde Agreement’s anti-dilution fees.

He’s requested a briefing to be given as soon as possible, but no later than May 21.

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