Mario Andretti sparked a hive of activity on social media on Friday when he shared the news that his son, Michael, has applied to enter Formula 1 from the 2024 season.
Going under the name of 'Andretti Global', the prospective entry "has the resources and checks every box", according to Andretti senior, with the outcome now in the hands of F1's governing body, the FIA.
It comes after Andretti Autosport - the multi-category operation led by Michael - missed out on a planned takeover of the Sauber-run Alfa Romeo F1 operation last year, with the move falling through at the last minute.
Now, the Andretti name could return to F1 as a fully-fledged outfit, with former F1 driver and accomplished team owner Michael at the helm, backed by his legendary father.
Andretti's plans to enter Formula 1 are "solid and real"
Following his social media post, the elder Andretti took time to update RacingNews365.com on his son's plans, which he has described as "very solid and real".
"I thought I would put it [the post] out because it's in play," Andretti explained from his Pennsylvania office, shortly after revealing the news.
"The application, everything, is in [the FIA's] hands, and so far, they have met the requirements. If there's any more, they're ready to listen.
"Michael and his group, they're committed to the project. They've been working on this flat out since the other opportunities, as far as buying an existing team, dried up.
"His intentions are very solid and real. Now, the undertaking becomes bigger, because you have to build up, build a team, [with] the objective of being on track in 2024.
"It will be as important as ever to receive [confirmation] as quickly as possible. They have a lot of things pending to finalise once they're given the go [ahead], and the sooner the better."
Andretti going "all in" for a European-based operation
While the Andretti Autosport team - active in IndyCar, Indy Lights, Formula E, Extreme E, Australian Supercars and IMSA - are located in Indianapolis, the US, the planned F1 entry would be based in England.
There is, however, a tentative plan for a manufacturing facility in Indianapolis, in which the F1 chassis would be built.
Andretti says his son is going "all in" to make the project happen, with plans also including a Formula 2 and Formula 3 entry in the future, to cover all steps on the F1 ladder.
"From where I stand, I'm excited about it, as you can imagine," Andretti continued.
"No one loves Formula 1 more than I do, and just to have the family involved, in this respect, with Michael [going] all in... his plans are to field a Formula 2 and a Formula 3 team eventually, out of all of it.
"He will be based in England; it's all set up, but I can't tell you at the moment... I cannot finalise all of those aspects.
"He has a good arrangement for an engine supplier already, so all of that would come once this could be announced, officially – all of these things will be told.
"He's further along [in the process] than a lot of people think, and time is of the essence, as you can imagine.
"A lot of people on Twitter say, 'You're joking. You're dreaming'. No, we're not dreaming, we're not joking – this is serious. It's been going on and it didn't just happen."
Attracting top talent and opening doors for American drivers
Michael Andretti previously revealed that American IndyCar star Colton Herta "led the way" on his wishlist of drivers, if the proposed Alfa Romeo takeover had gone ahead, saying it would have been a "huge story" to bring a US driver to F1.
If he succeeds this time around, Michael's team would feature "at least one" American driver, according to Mario, ending a drought that stretches back to Alexander Rossi's appearances with Manor in 2015.
"To have another investment in Formula 1, I think, can only be positive for all involved," stressed Andretti, before pointing to F1's growth stateside.
"With the US having two races here now… if Michael enters, for sure he'll have at least one American driver, if not two.
"Otherwise, I don't know when it's gonna happen to have an American driver in Formula 1.
"I'm also speaking to some interesting people on the technical side in England that will be joining us, so we're going for the top."
As for whether he would be directly involved in the team, Andretti senior said: "I will have some sort of a role, but I don't want a job. I want to call my own shots and so forth.
"But there's no way they're going to get rid of me. I'm going to be around, I can tell you that!"
Andretti will not rule out taking over another team
Although Andretti's plans have seemingly moved from takeover to full entry, Mario says there is still the possibility that his son could buy into a team, in the event that one becomes available in the near future.
"If an opportunity would come along to buy an existing team, that could still be in play," explained the 81-year-old.
"[Michael] would love that, actually; that would be the preference, to buy an existing infrastructure and build on that. But he tried and tried.
"He doesn't want to waste too much time. Most people say, 'Well, no teams are available, so just wait'. He doesn't want to wait."
F1's latest Concorde Agreement, which expires in 2025, introduced a $200m fee for any new entrants. That money would be split between the existing teams, protecting their revenues with a fairer distribution of commercial rights income.
But despite this hurdle, Andretti made clear: "All of those areas are checked. We're all aware of that, of course."
What are the next steps for a potential Andretti entry?
While many building blocks still need to be put in place, Andretti says he is feeling "very confident" that the plan will ultimately come off.
Should Andretti's plan get the green light, F1 would be welcoming in a new team for the first time since 2016, when another US-led squad - Haas - entered the fray.
"We're realistic; we weren't born yesterday, and you know what you're up against," Andretti added.
"But at the same time, financially, if we have good support and solid support, then a lot of things can happen. How do you make things happen? Surround yourself with the right people.
"Quite a few things are already in place, [there are] people with experience, people that have been there, done it, so that's the formula."
In terms of when news is likely to arrive from the FIA regarding the application, Andretti said: "They're not giving a timeframe. All they're saying is that they're working on it, and we have to accept that.
"I think they're working in good faith; I'm positive of that as well. We're very anxious, of course, and then in due time, they will tell them.
"I just hope that it's all positive news, that's all I can say. I'll hope and pray for that!"
Andretti Global are not the only team pushing for an F1 entry, with the Panthera Team Asia F1 project also ramping up their efforts, as recently revealed by RacingNews365.com.
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