U.S. Congress weighs in on Andretti F1 situation

Members of the U.S. Congress have written a letter addressed to Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei to express “concerns with apparent anti-competitive actions” that could stop Andretti Global’s bid to enter Formula 1.

Andretti has partnered with General Motors on a prospective F1 team, but has so far been knocked back in its attempts to join the grid by Formula One Management (FOM). While the entry was not completely rejected, FOM stated it would only consider Andretti’s application for 2028 when GM intends to build its own power unit.

Mario Andretti had stated talks were planned between the team and FOM at this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, but was present in Washington on Wednesday following the publication of the letter from a bipartisan group of members of Congress, led by Republican John James who represents a district in Michigan.

“FOM’s rejection appears to be driven by the current lineup of European Formula 1 race teams, many of which are affiliated with foreign automobile manufacturers that directly compete with American automotive companies like GM,” the letter reads. “It is unfair and wrong to attempt to block American companies from joining Formula 1, which could also violate American antitrust laws.”

The 12 members call for responses to three specific questions, asking:

  • “Under what authority does FOM proceed to reject admission of Andretti Global? What is the rational for FOM’s rejection, especially with respect to Andretti Global and its partner GM, potentially being the first American-owned and America-built race team?

  • “The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 outlaws unreasonable restraints on market competition to produce the best outcome for the American consumer. How does FOM’s denial of Andretti Global and GM, American-owned companies, square with Sherman Act requirements, since the decision will benefit incumbent European racing teams and their foreign automobile manufacturing affiliates?

  • “We understand that GM intends to re-introduce its Cadillac brand into the European market, which would support thousands of good-paying American automotive jobs, especially with Formula 1’s worldwide audience and its halo effect on its racing teams and sponsors. How much did GM’s and Andretti’s entrance into racing competition taking a portion of the racing market share and GM’s entry into the European market taking market share each play into the decision to deny admission to the Andretti Global team, given the public outcry of incumbent Formula 1 teams against a new American competitor?”

The letter requests responses by Friday, May 3, although does not appear to reference FOM’s own statement outlining its reasoning for focusing on 2028 for any Andretti Global entry.

Explaining its standing alongside the FIA in determining whether to add a new team to the grid, FOM stated in January: “The process set out in the invitation provides that both the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder must consider an application suitable in order for a new entrant to be selected.”

FOM also added that Andretti’s need to use a compulsory power unit supply from Renault in 2026 and 2027 before GM’s own power unit was ready “would be damaging to the prestige and standing of the Championship,” while it claimed Andretti’s brand would benefit from being in F1 more than F1’s would by accepting Andretti’s entry, and suggested an 11th team would “place an operational burden on race promoters” due to the space at certain venues.

“We would look differently on an application for the entry of a team into the 2028 Championship with a GM power unit, either as a GM works team or as a GM customer team designing all allowable components in-house. In this case there would be additional factors to consider in respect of the value that the applicant would bring to the Championship, in particular in respect of bringing a prestigious new OEM to the sport as a PU supplier.”

Formula One Management Ltd — a company registered in the UK — and Liberty Media have yet to provide a response to the letter.

Story originally appeared on Racer