Mario Andretti Says Son Michael's F1 Deal Had 'Better' Be Approved
Mario Andretti initially had only a few words when asked how his son Michael Andretti’s efforts to field a Formula 1 team were progressing, but his frustration with the process became more apparent as he talked.
“It’s going. It’s going,” Andretti said initially.
When asked if it was going to happen, he replied, “It better.”
Three months ago, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said Michael Andretti was “not smart” when he labeled the current teams greedy over their desire to protect their financial interests. The FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, has opened an application process for prospective new teams, but most of the existing Formula 1 operations have been resistant to new teams due to the impact it would have on their share of the prize money. A decision on whether any new Formula 1 teams will be allowed is expected this summer.
Michael Andretti wants to bring General Motors to Formula 1 with its Cadillac brand.
Mario Andretti believes General Motors entrance into Formula 1 would be a “wonderful thing for motor racing.”
“Let’s face it, as international as Formula 1 is to have a truly, solid American team and manufacturer, it’s got to be good for them,” the elder Andretti said.
“I know Gene Haas has a team and he never planned on having an American driver. Michael has committed to having at least one American driver always. Also, there is no official team that is fielding Formula 3 or Formula 2 and Michael has committed to having a Formula 3 and a Formula 2 team to give some American driver the opportunity to go to Europe and pursue Formula 1.
“So, there are a lot of things in play here. It’s a huge commitment for a long term.”
Andretti, who won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1978 driving for Lotus, said the FIA believed there should be 12 teams on the grid. Currently, there are 10 teams fielding cars for 20 drivers.
“They’re adding more and more races to the schedule in Formula 1 and they’re crossing continents, (and) it’s putting a big load on all the teams,” Mario Andretti said. “To have 22 or 24 cars on the grid rather than 20, I think it’s almost some insurance.”
The 83-year-old Andretti said that allowing his son to enter Formula 1 with General Motors would mean he achieved something the elder Andretti attempted more than 50 years ago. In the late 1960s, he said he tried to get Zora Arkus-Duntov to take General Motors Formula 1 racing. Arkus-Duntov was the brilliant engineer who transformed the Corvette into a high-performance machine. Andretti said Arkus-Duntov told him, “I talk, talk, talk and nobody hears me.”
Today, someone at General Motors is listening to Michael Andretti, who competed in Formula 1 in 1993. Also, the United States has three Formula 1 races this year – Miami, The Circuit of the Americas and Las Vegas.
“No other country on the planet has that,” Mario Andretti said.