FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has questioned “how on Earth” could Formula 1 say no to Andretti and General Motors’ bid to join the grid in 2026, with the American duo having seemingly completed the governing body’s checklist.
Ben Sulayem has been a vocal and public supporter of Michael Andretti’s bid to enter a new American team into Formula 1, with his company Andretti Global having done everything that the FIA asked.
Money has never been an issue for Andretti’s bid, with the side having had an approach to purchase Sauber collapse in 2021.
The Americans have been persistent, though, in getting their own team into Formula 1, something which is now looking more likely than ever before.
Ben Sulayem revealed that he told Andretti that they needed to find a manufacturer “if they were serious” about joining the pinnacle of motorsport, something they’ve done with General Motors.
General Motors is the biggest automaker in America, with Andretti having entered a partnership with the American manufacturer to partner with one of their divisions, Cadillac, in a joint bid to enter F1.
“I spoke to Mario and Michael Andretti at the Miami race weekend,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
“We were very clear in our answer at the time. We want a manufacturer. We told Andretti to work with one if they were serious about it. We encouraged them, they delivered.
“How on Earth could we say no to someone like GM? We wanted a big manufacturer. You are one. I had good discussions with the president of GM [Mark Reuss].
“He told me it wasn’t his decision alone. It was the governing body. They sent us a letter. We have three races in the US. It’s a healthy market.”
As promising as the Andretti bid appears, the vast majority of the teams are against the proposed entry, amid concerns that General Motors aren’t prepared to make their own power units.
It’s been speculated that Andretti-Cadillac could partner with Renault, something that has been labelled as a “badging exercise”, with the expectation being that a Cadillac sticker will be put on the power unit.
Another concern amongst the paddock is that it could dilute their existing profits, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner having called for “all parties” to have a conversation to solve the current predicament.
Despite Horner’s plea for talks between the FIA and F1, Ben Sulayem remains adamant that new teams can be entered into the sport, with the president believing it “would be wrong” to reject Andretti’s bid.
“We can add two more teams,” Ben Sulayem added.
“That’s what the rules say [Editor’s note – Article 8.6 of the Sporting Regulations actually stipulates that 26 cars may be admitted]. If they’re credible and they mean business, then we should let new teams come in.
“Imagine if we did that [shut the door to GM]. That would be wrong. I wasn’t elected to make money, I was elected to support the sport. I am an elected representative of the sport. We need a strong and fair FIA. Fairness is very important to us.”