Mario Andretti offended by F1 rejection. ‘If they want want blood, well, I’m ready,’ says 1978 champ

FILE - 1969 Indy 500 champion Mario Andretti watches from his grandson Marco Andretti’s pit area during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, May 19, 2023. Mario said Friday, April 19, 2024, he was “offended” by the reasons given by Formula One for denying his family the chance to join the global motorsports series. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Mario Andretti said Friday he was deeply offended by the language Formula One Management used in denying his family and General Motors the opportunity to join the global motorsports series.

The 1978 Formula 1 world champion posted on social media he was “devastated” when F1 rejected Andretti and General Motors in late January in their application to expand the current grid to accommodate a two-car American team.


The F1 rejection came after a six-month review of Andretti’s application and the reasoning for the denial was taken personally by both Mario and Michael Andretti, as well as GM, which plans to partner with Andretti in F1 under its Cadillac brand.

Among F1’s claims were that it did not believe Andretti would be a competitive team; that the Andretti name does not bring the value to the series that Michael Andretti believes it would; and that getting on the grid in the next two years would be a challenge Andretti has never faced before.

“I was offended, actually. I don’t think we deserved that, to be honest with you,” Mario Andretti said Friday at the Long Beach Grand Prix. “It’s a big investment in the series, and you’d think they’d welcome that. Even the value of the series is more valuable with 11 teams than 10, so I don’t know. Tell us what is really wrong.”

As for F1 questioning GM’s ability to provide an engine for the new team, only to also ask GM to find a team other than Andretti to partner with, Andretti took further exception.

“That’s another offensive statement there. We’re the ones that worked it out, and GM said it over and over, ‘Andretti or nothing,’ and then (F1) still tried to take it,” Andretti said. “There’s an undercurrent there that I don’t understand, quite honestly, but if they want blood, well, I’m ready.”

Andretti then pointed to his forearm and pretended to slice a vein to show his commitment to the F1 effort.

Andretti Cadillac last week opened a new facility for its F1 operation in Silverstone, England. The 48,000-square foot shop is operating and the team and GM maintain that “work continues at pace” on its attempt to enter F1. After the facility opening, the Andretti leadership group had one of its first official meetings with FOM — an email request late last year from F1’s governing body to meet with Andretti went to an Andretti spam folder — and Andretti said the groups agreed to meet again next month at the Miami Grand Prix.

“We only had one meeting with them. That’s a problem. We haven’t had enough. I think that’s why I really welcome our next meeting. You know, let’s sit down,” Andretti said. “There were some opportunities missed along the way, but we’ve got to look forward, not back. I’m remaining hopeful because we never stop working towards this. It was made clear that our work is at pace, and as you can see we’re not just talking. We’re putting brick and mortar together. We’ve shown that with the team that already has a place in Silverstone.

“We’re trying to say ‘We’ll do whatever you ask of us. We’ll do whatever is there. Now, if you think of something, you tell us,’” Andretti continued. “But they haven’t told us yet except for some excuses like, ‘Oh we don’t want you coming on, we don’t want you to be embarrassed.’ But we don’t want to embarrass ourselves, and the fact is General Motors has made it so clear that they’re excited about this project. They have a long-term commitment there, and I don’t know what else we can do.

“The rules say that 11 or 12 teams is legal,” said Andretti, who added the team is committed to fielding entries in F2 and F3 to facilitate some American talents. “We’re all-in, and I don’t know what else to do.”

Andretti, who won 12 F1 races and one championship, is considered one of the greatest drivers of all time and said he’s treated with respect at F1 events. He doesn’t understand why the same courtesy is not extended to his son, Michael, who ran 13 races in one ill-fated, shortened 1993 season. Michael Andretti’s mark was made in American open-wheel racing, and like his father, he’s considered among the greatest.

“I still don’t know what the reasons are because let’s be reasonable. We’re all racers. We all are professionals. We’re trying to advance the cause for all of us,” Andretti said. “I’ve never been disrespected as a person face-to-face, but it’s been at a distance, and I don’t think we deserve that.”

Andretti said the team goal is to be on the F1 grid in 2026 and when they told that to FOM, series representatives said they had been under the assumption the team wanted to be on the grid in 2025. Andretti said 2026 remains the goal even though this process began in 2021 with Andretti’s failed attempt to purchase Sauber.

He also said that F1’s refusal to admit Andretti is “definitely about the financial side, no question about it,” in that the existing 10 teams don’t want to share any of the revenue with a newcomer.

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