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Andretti Formula Racing

How Red Bull inadvertently triggered Congress' Andretti interest

Congress is starting to take an interest in the plight of Andretti and its block from entering Formula 1. The reason? Cold, hard, politics.

Michael Andretti Mario Andretti
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

To paraphrase one of the most famous election slogans in United States presidential election history, "it's politics, stupid."

Over the past couple of weeks, the plight of Andretti and its blocked bid to enter Formula 1 has piqued the interest of the United States Congress, and specifically the House of Representatives, with two high-profile interventions either side of the Miami Grand Prix. 

Firstly, 12 bipartisan members of the House signed a letter to Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei who pondered whether the block had broken the anti-trust 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act which basically allows free commerce between those engaged in commerce. 

However, the bigger intervention, and potentially the one with more bite, came earlier this week when the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan opened an investigation, addressing his letter to both Maffei and F1's Stefano Domenicali.

Follow the politics

To date, it is only members of the House who have publicly come out and put pressure on Liberty/F1, with no Senator yet doing so. 

Perhaps there's something in the fact that House members are elected every two years and must be constantly on the pulse of what the voters in their district are talking about and Senators enjoy six-year terms with one-third up for re-election every two years, but for whatever the reasons, the Senate has yet to touch Andretti's case. 

The House members, including Rep. Jordan's investigation, want to see all documentation relating to the entry process and discussions that took place between F1 and the existing 10 teams, and even between them, as to why Andretti was effectively told: 'Thanks, but no thanks', unless power unit partner General Motors has a fully running engine for 2028. 

The piquing of the House's interest seems to have been caused by a demo run from Red Bull on Pennsylvania Avenue on April 20th, with David Coulthard taking the RB7 for a spin sandwiched between The White House and Capitol Hill. 

Now, if you're making THAT much noise in Congress' backyard, you are going to poke the bear and it will turn around and say: 'Hmm, what is going on here?' 

1978 world champion Mario Andretti was summoned to the Hill in the lead-up to the Miami GP, where, on the grid, he declared that the team was still working towards a 2026 entry, imploring F1 just to give the team a chance to prove it is capable. 

But why is Congress acting now?

Despite the common misconception, politicians are no mugs, and in the launching of Rep. Jordan's investigation, it was signposted that he is an F1 fan and enjoys watching grand prix racing.

Something timely to say you might think, especially as the Miami GP drew over 3 million viewers, the highest-ever number for a grand prix in the United States. 

Vox Populi, and all that.

This is linked to the carrot that F1 left hanging for the Andretti-GM bid and the chance to reevaluate the bid in a couple of years, provided GM and its Cadillac brand are able to come up with a competitive power unit.

GM is based in Dearborn, Michigan, a state that is crucial in November's upcoming presidential election, one that both incumbent Joe Biden and challenger Donald Trump must carry if they have any hope of raising their right hand and repeating after the Chief Justice around 12pm ET on January 20th, 2025. 

Rep. Jordan is a fierce supporter of Trump, who FiveThirtyEight currently has up by 0.8% on Biden in the state that has voted with the winner nine times in the last 11 elections since 1980. 

The only president never to have carried Michigan in that time was George W Bush, losing to Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. 

Rep. Jordan is not from Michigan, he is based in Ohio, but as ever, Michigan will be one of the key prizes come November. What better way is there to lure some votes for your party - the Republicans - and by extension, Trump, than to be seen to be trying to get a Formula 1 project off the ground and talking tough to those who rejected Andretti?

Expect the noise to turn up in the coming months...

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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