FIA gives approval for Andretti’s entry paving the way to entering F1 subject to commercial deal

News & Analysis

The FIA has given its approval for Andretti to enter F1 as a new entry in 2026, paving the way for it to work on a commercial deal with the owners of the sports Liberty Media. At the start of the year, the sports governing opened the process for new teams to enter the sport.

Andretti Formula Racing was the only team approved by the FIA out of four candidates who made it to the second phase of the new team’s process. All others were deemed not to have met the required criteria. Andretti-Cadillac’s bid will now be assessed by rights holders F1 on a commercial basis.

F1 will only admit Andretti if it considers their entry to add value to the championship as a whole. But there is no definite timeline for this process and is expected to take some time, despite the expectation that the entry will be rejected. Its reported that this will be rejected for ‘purely commercial’ reasons.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has been consistent that any new outfit would need to bring a clear added value to the championship. he said before the summer break, “As we always said, we need to make sure that the decision is right for the business, and this is what I think is the duty of the FIA and us together, that has to be taken. So that is another decision that will be taken in the next couple of months.”

A statement from the FIA said each application was assessed based on sporting, technical and financial analysis. President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “The FIA was very clear in establishing stringent criteria for entry from the outset of the expressions of interest procedure.

“Our objective, after rigorous due diligence during the application phase, was to only approve prospective entries which satisfied the set criteria and illustrated that they would add value to the sport.

“The FIA is obliged to approve applications that comply with the expressions of interests application requirements and we have adhered to that procedure in deciding that Andretti Formula Racing LLC’s application would proceed to the next stage of the application process. Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfils the selection criteria that was set in all material respects.”

The FIA didn’t confirm the identities of the other teams who were assessed in the second phase of the process, but they are widely known within the sport.

The final four were Andretti, a partnership between New Zealand’s Ronin Cars and the Carlin racing organisation, junior category race team Hitech, and an Asian partnership known as Lucky Suns. Two other entries Formula Eagle and Pantera Team Asia, failed to make it through to this stage.

Andretti-Cadillac added: “We appreciate the FIA’s rigorous, transparent and complete evaluation process and are incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to compete in such a historic and prestigious championship. We look forward to engaging with all of the stakeholders in Formula One as we continue our planning to join the grid as soon as possible.”

The decision last year by Ben Sulayem has always been given a lukewarm reception by both Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei and Stefano Domenicali.

Maffei, the chief executive officer of Liberty Media, which owns F1, said in June: “In the right set of circumstances, we would work to get the eleventh team. Somebody who could bring a lot of value to the sport, a lot of value to the fans.”

F1 chairman Stefano Domenicali said earlier this year: “There are a lot of dimensions to consider and we don’t have to overreact because someone is pushing the system.” This was a veiled reference to Andretti, whose founder Michael Andretti is regarded by many in F1 to have been too aggressive in his bid to be accepted into the sport.

The commercial and governance agreement, Concorde Agreement, which expires on 31 December 2025 caps the number of teams at twelve.

Michael Andretti, who won the US CART championship and had a brief stint in F1 with McLaren in the 1990s, is fronting the bid from his team, which races in other motorsport disciplines, in collaboration with General Motors brand Cadillac. Andretti’s legendary father Mario, who is also involved with the project, was F1 world champion in 1978.

Second phase

The second phase of selection which Andretti were “the only candidate to meet the stringent criteria,” centred on four criteria

  • sporting ability
  • technical ability
  • the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the championship at a competitive level
  • the team’s experience and human resources

Ben Sulayem added, “The FIA was very clear in establishing stringent criteria for entry from the outset of the Expressions of Interest procedure. Our objective, after rigorous due diligence during the application phase, was to only approve prospective entries which satisfied the set criteria and illustrated that they would add value to the sport.

Three stages

Stage 1 Expressions of Interest COMPLETE
Stage 2 Application, evaluation & approval COMPLETE
Stage 3 The successful applicant referred to F1 for commercial discussions  

How we got here?

Andretti has been trying to enter F1 for several years, they attempted to buy Sauber (competing as Alfa Romeo) in 2021. However, that never materialised when Andretti teamed up with General Motors under the name Andretti Cadillac Racing. GM which owns Ford, is has already been granted entry after teaming up with Red Bull Powertrains to enter in 2026.

But Andretti’s push to become an eleventh team has received what could be described as a mixed reaction – at best – from most existing F1 teams and the sport itself.

Michael Andretti responded to the opposition in an interview with Forbes in January by claiming negative reaction from some teams was “all about greed and looking at themselves” given that their share of the overall F1 prize pot would be diluted by the arrival of an eleventh team.

However the dilution fee of roughly £715m, isn’t seen as enough given the boom in popularity over recent years means a place on the value of being an F1 team has increased. It’s now also worth not as much given market forces, high inflation caused by the war in Ukraine and recovery from the pandemic.

Estimates put the value of leading teams at close to $1bn (£830m).

, , , , , , , , , , , ,