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F1 meeting invite landed in Andretti Cadillac's spam email folder

Michael Andretti and General Motors representatives say they were unaware of the request until Formula One claimed its invitation had been ignored.
F1 meeting invite landed in Andretti Cadillac's spam email folder
Posted at 2:17 PM, Feb 02, 2024

Formula One's invitation to Andretti Cadillac for an in-person meeting about its application to join the motorsports series was sent via email and landed in a spam folder, which is why Michael Andretti and General Motors representatives never answered the request.

The junk email revelation came Friday as Andretti Global sought to clarify two points in the sharply critical document F1 released earlier this week in rejecting the Andretti Cadillac application.

F1 said it had contacted the Andretti camp on Dec. 12 "extending an invitation to an in-person meeting at our offices in order for the applicant to present its application, but the applicant did not take us up on this offer."

The invitation was news to the Andretti camp. Its IT team later discovered the request in a search of the email system; the email was not from F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, but a staff member of the series.

"We were not aware that the offer of a meeting had been extended and would not decline a meeting with Formula One Management. An in-person meeting to discuss commercial matters would be and remains of paramount importance to Andretti Cadillac," the team said. "We welcome the opportunity to meet with Formula One Management and have written to them confirming our interest."

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Andretti's formal bid to expand the F1 grid from 10 teams to 11 began in 2022 and has been met with cold indifference from most of the current teams as well as F1. In turning down the application, F1 said the team could not prepare a competitive car for the 2025 season, as well as a second car built under upcoming 2026 regulations. It said Andretti and General Motors could not handle such a massive undertaking and actually be competitive on the track.

"The fact that the applicant proposes to do so gives us reason to question their understanding of the scope of the challenge involved," F1 said.

Andretti countered Friday that although the FIA approved its application to compete in 2025 or 2026, the organization had been targeting 2026 for launch as the process plodded along. Andretti has already built a car around the 2024 regulations that it has taken to wind tunnel testing, but only because the full specs on the 2026 car have yet to be released.

"Andretti Cadillac has been operating with 2026 as the year of entry for many months now," the team said. "The technicality of 2025 still being part of the application is a result of the length of this process."

F1, which is owned by American company Liberty Media Corp., has said it is willing to revisit Andretti's application ahead of the 2028 season, which is the earliest GM would have a Cadillac engine ready for competition. If Andretti had been granted a team sooner, he would have had to find a different engine partner until GM's power unit is completed.

Andretti Cadillac after F1's decision said it strongly disagreed with the F1’s review of the application, though it has not said if it is considering any legal action, which could include a potential antitrust claim. The dismissive nature of F1's rejection rankled GM and Andretti executives; among other comments, F1 said the Andretti name does not bring the value to the series that Michael Andretti believes it would and that joining F1 is a challenge he has never faced before.

"Andretti and Cadillac are two successful global motorsports organizations committed to placing a genuine American works team in F1, competing alongside the world’s best," the companies said Wednesday. "We are proud of the significant progress we have already made on developing a highly competitive car and power unit with an experienced team behind it, and our work continues at pace."

The Andretti family is one of the top names in motorsports. The 1978 F1 champion, Mario Andretti and son Michael rank third and fourth on American open-wheel's all-time wins list. Mario Andretti had 12 wins, 19 podiums and 18 poles in 128 F1 races, while his son ran 13 races in 1993.

The two have been pushing to expand into F1 since at least 2021 when Michael Andretti's deal to buy the existing Sauber team fell apart. He then petitioned F1 to expand the grid for what Andretti claims will be a true American team in the series.

Although California businessman Gene Haas owns a team, Haas has never fielded an American driver or scored a single podium since its 2016 launch. Haas said when he started the team that his sole focus was to display his CNC machine company to an international audience.

Andretti has hoped to bring California-born IndyCar driver Colton Herta to F1. The only American driver in the series right now is Logan Sargeant, who was a late confirmation to return to Williams for a second season.

Andretti last year secured a partnership with GM to compete under the Cadillac banner, a deal that would have brought one of the top automakers in the world to F1. GM was initially only going to provide engine support but in November revealed it had applied to become an official power unit supplier for the 2028 season.

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