Michael Andretti said on Friday he has held “positive” talks with FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem in Miami as he aims to bring a new Formula 1 team to the grid.
After a deal to buy a majority stake in the Sauber/Alfa Romeo team collapsed in October, the 59-year-old began talking with the FIA on forming his own team and submitted paperwork in December.
Andretti – a former Formula 1 driver and son of world champion Mario – is aiming to enter the sport in 2024.
He is also a former IndyCar champion and owns Andretti Autosport, which has won four IndyCar Series championships and competes in Formula E, so there is certainly no lack of experience or authenticity behind the project.
And it would appear Ben Sulayem also has no reservations, judging by this weekend’s meeting.
“I think he’s in support, but there’s a big process that it’s got to go through and all that stuff,” Andretti explained on Friday.
“He said he’s in support in the process. There’s still a long way to go. But it’s nice, Mohammed liked what we presented.
“I don’t want to say too much, they don’t want to talk about it too much. But positive things.”
Although Andretti doesn’t expect “to get an answer for a while”, plans have already begun to establish an F1 facility in Indianapolis, and it would appear one of the potential seats is already filled by IndyCar starlet Colton Herta.
“We’re spending money to get the ball rolling, because we feel like we’re hopefully going to get it.
“We’re taking a risk, but we think it’s worth the risk. Because we’ve got to get the ball rolling. So we’re hiring people and things like that.”
Whilst naming no names in regards to his investors, Andretti claims to have assembled a group that can pay F1’s eye-watering $200m entry fee.
The American said he had expected to receive approval earlier in the year, but that the process had seemingly been delayed first by the controversy around the 2021 season finale and also by other teams who were wary of expanding the grid beyond the current roster of 10.
There was perhaps another blow for the plans as Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei downplayed the chances of adding an 11th team to the grid during a recent interview.
Maffei said on Friday: “There’s a potential that we may increase the teams over time; I don’t think it’s a pressing need. There’s a lot of people who would like us to do it.”
Featured image credit: IndyCar.
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