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Andretti Formula Racing

Why Andretti still has every chance of being on the grid in 2026

In early 2024, F1 announced that it had recommended that Andretti would not participate in Formula 1 in 2025 or from 2026, but did indicate that Andretti might be welcome from 2028, provided General Motors will step in, could there still be a way for Andretti onto the grid before 2028?

Andretti Cadillac
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To news overview © Andretti Cadillac

As we know, Andretti is very eager to enter Formula 1 and Grand Prix racing.

It seems to have its affairs in order in order to be able to enter even in 2025, but the F1 organization is not yet cooperating. Indeed, F1 recently announced a negative opinion on Andretti's possible entry into Formula 1 in 2025 or 2026. This left many F1 fans with the feeling that Andretti chances over entering before 2028 were over, but there is still a chance the team could.

The FIA previously announced that based on the sporting, technical and financial regulations, Andretti was given its approval to enter F1.

It gave that opinion based on a thick booklet that Andretti had to provide on how they were approaching the F1 project. Then it was up to the FOM (F1 organization) to make a decision about Andretti's commercial value added in F1.

That is where the strong rejection of Andretti's 2025/2026 bid came from, but ultimately the decision on Andretti's possible participation in F1 still lies with a combination of the FIA and FOM.

After all, the FIA is the owner, and governing body of F1, with Liberty Media taking care of the commercial aspects.

Naturally, the FIA will look carefully at FOM's advice, and probably ask additional questions of FOM, but the door is by no means closed for Andretti.

Therefore, the 20 points that the FOM laid out in the document rejecting Andretti for now, could be pushed aside by the FIA. Indeed, it may rule that, taken together, it does not consider these points strong enough to exclude Andretti from participating in F1 for commercial reasons.

In FOM's drafted conclusion points, it seems partly concerned with sporting factors. For example, it does not believe Andretti could be competitive as early as 2025 and therefore cannot add commercial value to the sport.

Should the parties disagree, the parties could even end up in court, where the fate of Andretti's F1 project would then be determined.

Andretti continues to believe in F1 project from 2026

Andretti is still very confident that it can be on the grid in 2026, and is making several car designs in the United States.

It already had these cars tested on scale model versions in Toyota's wind tunnel in Cologne, a sign that the Americans are serious, even though they will not participate in F1 in 2025, but are continuing preparations for 2026.

When the 2026 rules become official, it will immediately begin developing the 2026 car. Andretti already employs a lot of personnel for the F1 project and naturally wants to keep these people busy, which is why they are continuing to work on designs for the 2025 car at this time.

The question based on the FOM report, however, is how competitive Andretti can be and what financial impact this will have on F1.

FOM looked back at the past and concluded that over the past few decades, there have been few successful new entries of new teams into F1.

In doing so, FOM seems to have focused more on an entry by Andretti in 2025, rather than the 2026 season when the rules change for everyone. Should Andretti enter in 2026, they also have much more time to build a competitive car.

Because of Andretti's experience in other motorsports series, one might wonder whether Andretti will actually flop and whether there are any major financial implications for F1 as a result. Looking at the past, all the current F1 teams on the grid ended up coming to Formula 1 from other series as well.

In addition, it is debatable whether Andretti will bring nothing to F1 financially. Indeed, there is a chance that the well-known motorsports family and the Andretti brand will provide F1 with a huge commercial boost in the American market. After all, America is the country that F1 is trying to conquer, including for financial reasons.

An American fan's average financial return is in fact much higher than fans from across other parts of the world. One example is the National Football League (NFL). Overall, far fewer fans watch the NFL than a combination of the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga combined, yet the NFL organization earns more annually than all of these soccer leagues combined.

The commercial implications of Andretti's possible participation in F1 are therefore also difficult to assess. FOM's conclusions do not make it clear that it is a fact that Andretti will not bring F1 more and that it would be the other way around, as indicated by FOM.

Partly for this reason, Andretti will still have hopes of still being on the grid in 2026. After all, one of the main points laid out by the FOM cannot be proven conclusively.

In a statement, Andretti previously let it be known that they will continue to work on the F1 project. They will do so from Indianapolis and Charlotte, where the team has its factory and offices.

From those locations, for example, they will also continue to recruit F1 personnel in the coming months. Indeed, Andretti knows very well that the FIA and FOM will eventually have to consult to make the final decision, and that they therefore still have every chance of forcing a participation in 2026.

Concorde Agreement may stop Andretti though

Though Andretti still has no certainty regarding participation in 2026, Andretti itself still seems to believe in it 100%.

An important sign, because it means that General Motors will also continue developing the power unit for 2028, a project which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, so even at GM headquarters they still believe in it.

Rumours are also circulating that a big name has already been brought in to lead the power-unit project. Should Andretti still manage to force participation, the script for the first episodes of a TV series about the project seems to be ready...

The question, however, is how exactly the process will proceed. It was initially widely assumed that after the FIA's commitments in the aforementioned areas, it was up to FOM to make a final decision on Andretti's possible participation in 2025 or 2026.

So that is not the case, in that the FIA and FOM still need to have a conversation with each other, about the findings they have both made in this matter.

A risk for Andretti, however, is that an agreement could be reached in the near future on the new Concorde Agreement, which will take effect in 2026.

FOM, F1 teams and the FIA are currently still discussing what this new agreement should look like. Most teams do not seem to be in favour of an 11th team. These teams are likely to do everything they can in the negotiations of the new agreement to make it as difficult as possible for a potential 11th team.

For example, there were earlier rumours that they wanted to raise the entrance fee from $200 million to $600 million, an immensely high amount that is unlikely to be paid by Andretti and GM.

However, the entrance fee is not the only way to slow Andretti down. For example, the new agreement could stipulate that the maximum number of teams be set at 10. In that case, Andretti would only be able to enter F1 by buying up another team.

Negotiations between FOM, F1 teams and the FIA did not yet seem to be going smoothly in 2023 regarding a new Concorde Agreement.

Should that change in early 2024, however, Andretti's plans as far as F1 is concerned could still be shelved. That is not the case at this time, however, and so Andretti will continue to work hard on the F1 project.

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