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Andretti Formula Racing

The outstanding candidate for an Andretti F1 drive is currently on the grid

Andretti has been FIA approved for an F1 entry slot, but who could the drivers be if it agrees terms with FOM on commercial matters?

Andretti Formula Racing LLC, to give it its proper name, has not yet been granted acceptance to join the Formula 1 grid, despite the FIA's announcement on October 2nd that it had forwarded the application onto 'Phase 3.'

While F1's governing body is happy that Andretti Global's bid meets all the relevant criteria, the important Phase 3 sees the team thrashing out financial terms with the Commercial Rights Holder (CRH), which is F1 itself.

Bluntly put, if F1 doesn't, can't, or won't, come to an agreement with Andretti, the team won't be on the grid in either 2025 or 2026. F1's reactions all throughout the application process has been rather lukewarm towards the whole thing, but now comes the time to sit at the table and see what arrangement or deal is possible.

If F1 does eventually agree terms with Andretti, it would much rather a 2026 entry, when the new Concorde Agreement would be in play, as opposed to the one that covers the 2021-2025 seasons, with just the $200 million anti-dilution fee in that period.

Be that as it may, now it has the letter (or should that be press release?) from the FIA confirming it is happy, preparations can now be ramped up by the team, and that includes figuring out which two squishy bits of organic material will strap themselves into the first ever Andretti-Cadillac Formula 1 car.

Let's take a look at some of the contenders - starting with... Yep, you guessed it...

Colton Herta

When RacingNews365 spoke exclusively to Mario Andretti in August, the father of boss Michael reiterated the fact that there would be an American driver in one of the two seats.

For this particular equation, two plus two does not equal four, but it does Colton Herta.

In autumn 2022, Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko tried everything to get Herta a seat in F1 with AlphaTauri - but his lack of super licence points proved a stumbling block.

For argument's sake, let's say Andretti enters in 2026, the three-year period for points to count would cover the 2023-2025 seasons, with 40 the magical number required.

In 2023, Herta finished 10th in the IndyCar standings, enough to earn him one point, meaning 39 are still required. He will need to finish in the top three of the standings in the next two seasons to hit the 40-point mark, with the champion actually receiving the full whack in one go.

If he finds himself a few points short, Herta could always jump in for some FP1 sessions, if Andretti could find a team willing to do this (Hi Alpine) to earn some extra - in much the same way Logan Sargeant did with Williams in late 2022.

As it stands over the 2021, 2022, 2023 seasons, Herta has 10 points from his IndyCar commitments, although the '21 haul of eight will fall away at the end of the '24 season.

Herta might be the choice Andretti wants, but getting him there might be a different story altogether.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Valtteri Bottas is the logical choice

Now, while Andretti certainly has aspirations to be mixing it with the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren, that is not going to happen straight away.

A good first season or two will be to become a regular points scorer and Q3 fixture, battling away in the midfield for every point.

As such, Andretti will require a calm, experienced and knowledgeable head with front-running experience to help the team grow, but also the know-how of navigating the minefields of the midfield.

On the current grid, the standout candidate is Valtteri Bottas. He should be number one on the shopping list.

When Audi rocks up to Sauber in 2026, it's likely it will want its own high-profile signing to lead the team (that noise you can hear is Sebastian Vettel's phone ringing in the background).

Audi is unlikely to retain Bottas's services, which leaves him either with the option of retirement or getting stuck in and building the Andretti project.

Let us not forget that Bottas is an extremely fast driver, one who out-qualified Lewis Hamilton at a rate of about one in three at Mercedes.

He has priceless knowledge of a title-winning machine, and relevant, recent experience of battling away in the midfield, both with Williams and latterly Alfa Romeo.

If Bottas is interested in the seat, it really is a no-brainer and Andretti should be chucking whatever it takes to get the Finn's signature on the dotted line.

Sergio Perez similarily fits the bill, as he is unlikely to be at Red Bull in 2025 and would be in a similar boat to Bottas, with the opportunity to potential leave a lasting legacy enticing.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Josef Newgarden

If Herta fails to get his super licence, the next best thing Michael Andretti can do to get an American in the seat is get on the phone to Roger Penske and asking The Captain if he wouldn't awfully mind releasing his star driver for a shot at Formula 1.

Newgarden has been linked to F1 before, back in 2017 after wrapping up his first IndyCar title.

As the Toro Rosso driver nonsense played out with Danill Kvyat, Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley and Carlos Sainz taking musical chairs to the extreme, Newgarden was touted as a potential driver for the remaining four races of the year.

However, he firmly rejected this at the time, believing it would make no sense to trundle around at the back of the field in F1 while he could be fighting for wins and titles in IndyCar.

Along with 2021 and 2023 champion Alex Palou, Newgarden is arguably one of the top five drivers in the world not in F1 and is a devastatingly fast driver on his day.

He finally has that Indy 500 win he has craved for so long under his belt so could the opportunity appeal to drive for an American team in F1? Probably not with perhaps an FP1 outing or test day his best hope of getting behind the wheel.

			© 2023 Joe Skibinski
	© 2023 Joe Skibinski

Jamie Chadwick

Perhaps the least likely of all the candidates here, Jamie Chadwick has long been listed as the next hope of getting a female driver finally into F1.

She is currently competing in the Indy NXS Series (think Formula 2 to IndyCar's Formula 1), with Andretti, but her first season stateside was poor with a best finish of sixth in Portland and 10th in the standings.

Moreover, the points Chadwick earned for her W Series title successes will be wiped by the time of 2026 meaning she would face an almighty battle to secure enough points to earn that vital super licence.

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