The news that General Motors has signed up with the FIA to become a seventh F1 power unit supplier from 2028 is nothing short of a bombshell.
The American brand has already partnered with the Andretti Global entry bid to become an 11th team on the grid - potentially from 2025 - though the Andretti Cadillac Racing effort has met stern pushback from the incumbent teams.
So why is the news of an engine supply such a big deal?
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Michael Andretti has tried to get his team name on the grid for a number of years.
First came a failed bid to purchase the Sauber operation, which collapsed at the 11th hour back in 2021, before the Hinwil-based outfit eventually announced a deal with Audi to become the works team from 2026.
But last year, Andretti decided to go it alone and announced a bid to join F1 as an 11th team.
F1 and the existing teams hardly batted an eyelid between the various parties but the FIA and President Mohammed Ben Sulayem caused a stir by triggering an Expression of Interest Process earlier this year, during which five teams applied to potentially join the grid.
Andretti's bid had always been the most vocal but still could not win favour with F1. The biggest issue has been with the value and what any new team could add, given the slice of prize-money pie each team is handed out under the Concorde Agreement would shrink with another party sitting at the table.
Flimsiness to the value
With this issue in mind, Andretti entered a partnership with GM to create the Andretti Cadillac Racing entry.
While at first it seemed a masterstroke - why wouldn't it be as one of the world's biggest, most powerful car brands was now involved - it was quickly pointed out that there was no great material value being added.
Yes, GM and specifically Cadillac was a huge draw, especially for the American market, but there was no technological value to the deal. It was much more akin to the existing Alfa Romeo-Sauber deal that sees the Italian marque essentially badging the team rather than the prospective Audi-Sauber deal that sees the German giant take a stronghold of technical matters.
So whilst the move was positive, there was still a flimsiness to the bid if scrutiny was applied to the value being added. Many teams, including Williams through Team Principal James Vowles, pointed out that GM would be welcome in F1 with their teams or as a standalone, but not simply tagged along with a new, independent outfit.
Nevertheless, GM President Mark Reuss doubled down in an interview with AP and insisted it would only join F1 with Andretti - the reasons for that now becoming clear.
The date where fortunes changed
In the meantime, Andretti had passed the first two phases of the entry process - both handled by the FIA.
No other team had managed to do so, underlining the apparent strength of the American outfit's proposal. But the toughest phase remains - commercial discussions with F1, where the value of the new team will be put to the test.
Before, there was enough reason to doubt just how serious any added value could be from ACR. After all, it was almost destined to use an Alpine-Renault engine and run as an independent team. What value could that bring?
Rightly or wrongly, it felt as though fate would have it that Andretti would not enter F1 for the above reason. A shame for the spectacle, but perhaps sensible from a business perspective - at least that's what almost every Team Principal has said over the past 12 months.
Yet it all changes with GM's announcement that it has signed up as a power unit supplier. Not only is it a marker of commitment to the sport, it presents Andretti with an answer to the biggest argument its prospective rivals were making.
It will essentially become a works team for a car giant, pitting Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Renault, Audi and Cadillac against each other on the world stages - and furthermore, the brands of Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford, Daimler, Renault and GM.
If that's not value, nothing will ever be good enough frankly. The announcement is a mic-drop moment for Andretti's entry bid. If the team does join F1, November 14 2023 will be the date when the fortunes changed.