Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Liberty Media CEO on F1 development: ‘We are in great demand’

If things had gone according to plan, Colton Herta would be preparing for the fifth Formula One race of his career in Miami.

Instead, the 22-year-old California is headed to the inaugural Miami Grand Prix as a spectator. Meanwhile, his boss awaits word on his request to start a Formula One team and bring a true American team to the grid.

When talks broke down over control of the organization, Michael Andretti fell short in his last bid to buy the Sauber team. He denied speculation that he did not have the necessary cash to complete the deal.

“No, 1,000% no, that hasn’t happened,” Andretti told the Associated Press. “It fell apart because all of a sudden they changed the terms and they wanted to control everything. They wanted veto power over every decision. They changed that two days before the deal was signed. So I don’t give a shit which one.” Somebody says, we were never going to do a deal in which we bought the team but didn’t have control over the team.”

In February, his father Mario, the 1978 F1 champion, revealed that his son had asked F1’s governing body to expand the 20-car grid and enter Andretti into the top series in motorsports. There has been almost no movement since then; The FIA, F1 and Liberty Media, the US company that owns the series, have said little publicly about Andretti’s search.

Several F1 teams have publicly said they are against the expansion because adding the two cars would thin the purse, and there are signs Andretti is not the only one asking about starting a team.

With each passing day, Michael Andretti’s hopes dwindle. He said that they have the infrastructure and plans in place but the longer the process, the less time it will take to properly prepare the team.

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“I talked to (Liberty Media CEO) Greg (Mafei) and I asked him, ‘Just let it go on a bid, we’ll beat everyone,'” Andretti told the Associated Press. “That’s all I’m asking. It’s not like they give it to us. We have a shot and we’ll beat anyone else out there. We have great supporters. Money isn’t the issue.”

Andretti said he does not have the personal funds needed to launch the F1 team – an initial $200 million buy-in fee – and would not reveal his supporters. But it is widely believed that his support comes from the Guggenheim Group, which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Andretti confirmed that his supporters are already involved in professional sports.

Andretti, who spent 1993 commuting between the US and Europe as an F1 driver for McLaren, believes the return of the Andretti name will be a boon to the series as its popularity grows in North America. F1 took a four-year break from racing in the US before returning to Texas in 2012, and Miami is one of the hottest tickets in the sport this weekend.

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