Latest twist in Andretti-Cadillac F1 saga includes tension at Miami GP, per report

The latest twist in the ongoing controversy surrounding Andretti-Cadillac’s bid to join Formula 1 might be the most explosive yet, according to a report from Sahil Kapur of NBC News.

According to Kapur, it is alleged that Mario Andretti and Greg Maffei, the CEO of Liberty Media, “clashed” at a private breakfast reception on the Saturday prior to the Miami Grand Prix. Liberty Media is the ownership group of F1.

Andretti told Kapur that when he arrived at the reception, he began speaking with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali about Andretti’s visit to Capitol Hill ahead of the Miami Grand Prix. On the Wednesday prior to the race Andretti appeared at a press conference with members of Congress regarding the proposed Andretti-Cadillac team.

In the days since various Congressional leaders have written to Liberty Media and F1 regarding the bid, including most recently a group of Senators including Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) who requested the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission investigate the “exclusion” of Andretti-Cadillac from F1.

Returning to the invitation-only event ahead of the Miami Grand Prix, Andretti told Kapur that when he was speaking with Domenicali, Maffei intervened.

“I was asked to go [to Washington],” Andretti recalled telling Domenicali when speaking with Kapur. “And just as I was trying to explain that to Stefano, Greg Maffei, Mr. Maffei broke in the conversation and he said: ‘Mario, I want to tell you that I will do everything in my power to see that Michael never enters Formula 1.’”

Kapur reached out to both Maffei and Liberty Media, who declined to comment. According to Kapur “[a] source close to Liberty Media, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation, said the event occurred differently than Andretti described it.”

Furthermore, “‘Andretti approached Greg at the breakfast to have a discussion with him,’ the source told NBC News, adding that during the conversation Maffei indicated to Andretti that their application to join the grid in 2025 or 2026 was rejected for good business reasons.”

The reporting is just the latest twist in an ongoing saga surrounding the proposed Andretti-Cadillac F1 team. Last year the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), motorsport’s governing body, invited prospective teams seeking a spot on the F1 grid to apply for membership. A number of potential teams submitted bids, including Andretti-Cadillac, and the proposed Andretti-Cadillac partnership was the only team approved at by the FIA at this initial stage.

The next step, however, involved consideration by Formula One Management (FOM), the sport’s commercial rights holders. This is where the Andretti-Cadillac bid stalled at the end of January. In a statement from FOM that was released to the media, including SB Nation, the sport’s commercial rights holders found that the Andretti-Cadillac team would not be “competitive:”

“Our assessment process has established that the presence of an 11th team would not, on its own, provide value to the Championship. The most significant way in which a new entrant would bring value is by being competitive. We do not believe that the Applicant would be a competitive participant.

“The need for any new team to take a compulsory power unit supply, potentially over a period of several seasons, would be damaging to the prestige and standing of the Championship.

“While the Andretti name carries some recognition for F1 fans, our research indicates that F1 would bring value to the Andretti brand rather than the other way around.”

That decision has, if anything, only seen the Andretti-Cadillac operation pick up their pace. The prospective team recently opened a facility in Silverstone, near Silverstone Circuit, the site of the British Grand Prix. And in perhaps their biggest move yet the team announced earlier this week that Pat Symonds, who has a wealth of experience in F1 and is coming off a seven-year stint as the Chief Technical Officer for F1, will join Andretti-Cadillac following a “gardening period.”

As Andretti told NBC News, he believes the proposed Andretti-Cadillac bid has done everything right, and would bring “value” to F1. “We’re bringing something of value. It’s a big investment in the sport that we love or sport that’s our job and our passion,” he said to Kapur. “It’s a long-term commitment. We’ve done everything that needs to be accomplished, needs to be done to earn a spot in Formula 1. What else do you want us to do?”

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