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Andretti Formula Racing

FIA President rejects suggestions Andretti F1 bid could end in court

The FIA President has addressed concerns that a rejection for Andretti could stoke further tensions between the governing body and Formula One Management.

Michael Andretti Ben Sulayem Bin Sulayem Miami 2022
To news overview © XPB Images

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has "no fear" over Andretti being accepted onto the Formula 1 grid, and dismissed any suggestions that the bid could go to court.

F1's governing body recently approved an application for Andretti Formula Racing LLC to join the F1 grid from 2025 at the earliest, having moved it to the final phase of the entry process.

Having passed the technical and sporting requirements, Andretti has now entered Phase 3 - which is to enter "commercial discussions" with Formula One Management (FOM).

However, the reaction from FOM and the 10 current teams has been lukewarm throughout the entry process, with some wanting to see any new team bring 'accretive' elements, while the addition of an 11th team would also reduce their total prize pot money.

This reluctance has led to concerns that it could end up with anti-competitive authorities within the EU, should Andretti not be accepted by FOM.

When asked by RacingNews365 on the future timelines for this process, Ben Sulayem told media: "FOM has all the time for them [Andretti], I am not in a position to push or to tell them what to do.

"I do respect everything they do, I never interfere with whatever they are doing. At the same time, I don't like anyone interfering in our jurisdictions.

"The other teams have already received letters saying that we cannot [proceed]."

Ben Sulayem noted that the governing body has made sure they have kept records should any EU lawsuit come to light.

"The FIA team put a lot of work into it, to the point where I said to them: 'Remember, we have to be transparent'," he added.

"All of these documents can be taken to court and the EU, and then they will question you over 'Why is this team allowed and not this one?' So I have no fear."

Ben Sulayem: We don't want to go to court

The FIA President has played down any suggestions that Andretti's entry could be battled in a courtroom, despite the previous tensions between the governing body and FOM over the announcement of the tender process.

"We don't have to go to court, I don't think any of us would go to court," said Ben Sulayem.

"Maybe it's sounds very exciting and thrilling to the media, but we will not go to court. I'm sure of that. Why should we go to court?

“This marriage [between FIA and FOM], I’ve said it before and I'll say it again: I think the Pope of the Vatican can get married 100 times and get divorced. But we will not be divorced.

"The owners might change tomorrow, Liberty Media might sell, but FIA with Liberty go to court? We will not allow it. It's not for even discussion.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Adding value to Formula 1

Andretti would be the second American team to join the grid after Haas, with the team planning a big expansion for its operations in with a brand new racing headquarters in Fishers, Indiana.

Its entry alongside General Motors and its Cadillac brand - also brings further exposure to a market F1 has dominated in the last couple of years through one of the largest car manufacturers in the world.

A refusal of their entry could be seen as adding further political tensions between the FIA and FOM, but Ben Sulayem believes it will only benefit F1.

"It won't break up between us, we did not put FOM in a strange position," he explained.

"Our intention is to add value to the sport and to make an OEM. We challenged Andretti and the first time said: 'No, unless you have someone [OEM] with you'

"Then they came back with an OEM, and that [decision] was joint with the FIA and FOM.

"So I can't see that it would be an issue between us and FOM regarding this matter. We're not forcing ourselves on them, and neither FOM [on us].

"I mean, I was happy when I saw the [fan] survey and 84% said they would like to see an extra team."

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