Former Formula 1 Michael Andretti has confirmed that he has held talks with FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem about a possible entry into Formula 1.
Andretti had made an attempt to purchase the Sauber Group last season which would ultimately have seen the arrival of young IndyCar star Colton Herta into the pinnacle of motorsport, but this ultimately fell through.
Rumours have tenuously linked him with a possible move to buy Gene Haas’ team which he introduced in 2016, but no official bid is reported to have been made.
But the son of 1978 world champion Mario and a podium finisher in his own right has since applied to have his own team on the grid in 2024, and he now reveals that ben Sulayem is on board with the idea of introducing a fourth brand-new team since 2010.
“I think he’s in support, but there’s a big process that’s got to go through and all that stuff,” he said during the Miami Grand Prix weekend.
“He said he’s in support in the process. There’s still a long way to go. But it’s nice, Mohammed liked what we presented.
“I don’t want to say too much, they don’t want to talk about it too much. But [there have been] positive things.”
Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess recently warned that, even working with an existing team, it takes years of development to make a competitive engine package, so it is highly likely that Andretti would be asking an established manufacturer to power his team.
He is aware of the size of the project at hand, but he insists that he has been diligent in his preparation for life as a team owner in the pinnacle of motorsport.
“We’re taking a risk, but we think it’s worth the risk. Because we’ve got to get the ball rolling. So we’re hiring people and things like that,” he explained.
Concerns have been raised around the American’s arrival though, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner affirming that any new entrant must “add value” to the sport, while Haas team principal Guenther Steiner suggested that 10 teams is sufficient for now.
Andretti, of course, disagrees with that.
“10 teams is not the right number,” he stated.
“If you really think about it, they’ve got the Concorde Agreement coming up in ’25. Now, Red Bull owns two teams. They say they’re pulling out, now you’ve got 16 cars.
“You can’t have a race with 16 cars. You can have a race with 18 cars. To me, it gives them way more leverage with the teams by having extra teams.”
Despite the lack of support from his peers, the 59-year-old affirms that there are plenty of people in support of his bid.
“I think millions of people embracing it. It’s just not the right people at the moment,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether Herta would feature in Andretti’s driver line-up after journalist Joe Saward tipped the 22-year-old to replace the “lost” Daniel Ricciardo by 2024.