Mario Andretti raised eyebrows on Friday when the American took to social media to announce that his son Michael had applied to join the Formula 1 grid from the 2024 season.
Andretti has revealed Michael is overcoming the various hurdles to get to F1, with US racing giants Andretti Global revealing they already have a “good deal” with an engine supplier for their programme.
It’s unclear who the engine supplier is and the announcement has yet to be made officially, but Andretti revealed that all the basics are in place for a 2024 start.
The American also confirmed that Team USA will be based in the UK, with Andretti moving to England – the de facto capital of Formula 1, with seven of the ten teams based there.
It is planned to have a US-based manufacturing facility, with the car’s chassis being developed in Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis Speedway.
Michael has applied to the FIA to field a new F1 team from 2024. His entry, Andretti Global, has the resources and checks every box. He awaits the decision of the FIA.
— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) February 18, 2022
“From where I stand, I’m excited about it, as you can imagine,” Andretti told RacingNews365.
“No one loves Formula 1 more than me, and just to have the family involved, in that regard, with Michael [going] all-inclusive – his plans are to field a Formula 2 team and a Formula 3 team eventually, out of all of this.
“He will be based in England; everything is in place, but I can’t tell you at the moment, I can’t finalize all these aspects.
“He already has a good arrangement for an engine supplier, so that would all come once it could be announced, officially; all these things will be said.
“He is more advanced [in the process] than many people think, and time is running out, as you can imagine.
“A lot of people on Twitter say, ‘You’re kidding. You are dreaming’. No, we are not dreaming, we are not joking, this is serious. It lasts and it didn’t happen by chance. »
Andretti tried to join the F1 grid last year when he tried to take over Alfa Romeo, but the deal fell through at the final hurdle.
The new budget cap of $140m has made F1 attractive to potential applicants, but a fee of $200m is required for any new team joining the grid.
Building a team from scratch requires huge resources, and the American hasn’t ruled out taking over an existing team.
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“If an opportunity arose to buy an existing team, it could still be in play,” Andretti continued.
“[Michael] would like that actually. It would be the preference to buy existing infrastructure and build on it. But he tried and tried.
“He doesn’t want to waste too much time. Most people say, “Well, no team is available, so wait.” He doesn’t want to wait.
Operation Andretti would be the first new team to join the grid since 2016, when US-based Haas entered F1.
Asked about a timetable for next steps, the 81-year-old was reluctant to give details but stressed that everything was in place for 2024.
“We are realistic; we weren’t born yesterday, and you know what you’re up against,” said the American.
“But at the same time, financially, if we have good backing and strong backing, then a lot can happen.
“How do you make things happen?” Surround yourself with good people.
“A lot of things are already in place. [There are] people with experience, people who have been there, have done it, so that’s the formula.
“They are [the FIA] don’t give a deadline. All they’re saying is they’re working on it, and we have to accept that.
“I think they are working in good faith – I’m convinced of that too. We are very anxious, of course, and then in due time they will tell them.
“I just hope it’s all positive news, that’s all I can say. I hope and pray for that.