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  • Writer's pictureRyan Hunt

What is the big deal with Michael Andretti?

Andretti Autosports Seeks to Lead U.S. F1

Except for American-owned Haas, there have been few lasting impressions from Americans on the Formula 1 circuit. Enter Michael Andretti, head of Andretti Autosport, now Andretti Global.

Andretti has proven his capabilities for building successful teams in IndyCar, IMSA, and Formula E, with four championships and six Indy 500 victories. Now partnering with General Motors Cadillac, he aims to bring a true American team to the F1 circuit. However, with all great things comes great challenges. Though an unsurprising next step for Andretti, between worry from other teams of a potential effect on their current business model and that adding an 11th team would change the very dynamic of the sport, there has been substantial pushback from leaders within the sport.

Though the recent approval of their bid to join by the FIA is a huge step, they are not out of the woods just yet. It’s the teams that have been hesitant to put more teams on the grid. The next step is to be granted approval by the commercial rights holder of Formula 1, Liberty Media. While this is a very politically charged matter and will require diplomacy from the Andretti team, they have a compelling case. A giant name in open-wheel motorsport partnered with a giant in the automotive space is exactly what gets the job done. Toss a little American by the name of Colton Herta, and you get all the components of a team the American market has been begging for since Drive To Survive made its debut!

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the St. Pete IndyCar GP as a guest of one of Andretti’s sponsors. What an experience it was! Andretti made me feel like part of the family during my time there, and I remain in contact with personnel to this day. I’ll let you into a special moment in time with me. I was talking with Mario Andretti in the hospitality center following news of a possible entry into Formula 1, and I will never forget the conversation. The race followed comments from key members of F1, saying that there was no place for Andretti on the grid and that they likely didn’t have the fortitude or capital to engage in such an endeavor. Those are fighting words to a guy like Ryan, but Mario…A guy that sat at one point in his life on the pole…in Formula 1…in a Ferrari…in Italy! He seemed deflated by this. Not in a way that he couldn’t rise to the challenge, but rather curious why the sport would not embrace the legacy of an Andretti team on the grid.

I have lived a life of grit and resilience, and I know personally that the Andretti’s also have these traits. I am passionate about the competitive sport and the exciting commercial opportunity that F1 presents to the global markets. So, I challenge the sport to embrace the competition that Andretti will bring instead of showing what I personally view as just plain old fear.

A Shift Toward Formula 1 Teams in the U.S.

We have entered a time here in the US where most sports bars have Formula 1 races running on at least one of the screens. Even as I sit here on a Monday evening in Houston, Texas. While F1 seems to have cracked the US motorsports market, I believe they have only scratched the surface. It has taken decades of growth worldwide for pure fans to follow a team, no matter how good or bad a season gets. America is only five years into the unexpected explosion of Drive to Survive and is still in the phase where most conversations stateside are full of “It’ll be great when Max stops winning every race!”. A statement made by someone who still has yet to fully understand the sport itself. I see decades of growth here!

This shift in vision for Andretti displays the impact Formula 1 has on the American audience and shows the growing popularity of the sport dominated by Europe for years. It signifies the changing landscape of Formula 1 and the pressure to find new and innovative markets for racing. From a business perspective, it only makes sense that a man who has been on top of the US racing game would want to reach across the sea and explore faster horizons.

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