US congress members accuse F1 of ‘cartel-like behaviour’

Thu, 2 May 2024, 09:00

May 2 (GMM) A group of US congress members are challenging Formula 1’s decision to lock Andretti-Cadillac out of the sport.

While the FIA green-lit American racing icon Michael Andretti’s bid to field an eleventh team, the Liberty Media-owned F1 commercial rights holders said no.

Andretti, however, says preparations for a 2026 debut continue “at pace”, with that work now backed by a bipartisan group of 12 lawmakers.

Michael Andretti’s father Mario, the legendary 1978 world champion, fronted the media outside the US Capitol with John James, a representative for Michigan’s 10th congressional district.

And the other eleven congressmen joined him in signing a letter to Liberty Media outlining their “concerns with the apparent anti-competitive actions that could prevent two American companies, Andretti Global and General Motors, from producing and competing in Formula 1”.

NBC News reported: “They invoked the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and sought answers for the rationale for rejecting the team, including whether it is designed to unfairly protect the European teams from competition in the US, where the fan base has grown dramatically.”

Mario Andretti, meanwhile, told reporters: “We’re ready with everything that’s needed. Give us a green light and let us do our thing.

“Our team, Andretti Global, is part of every major racing discipline in the world. Formula 1 is the one that’s left. And we want to be part of that.”

Congressman James described Liberty Media’s behaviour as “cartel-like”.

“From the outside looking in, one can ask ‘Is this a money grab?’ Is Formula 1 kicking the can down the road for a different agreement, so that they can go from $200 million to $1 billion dollars extracted from Andretti-Cadillac?” he said.

James said he hopes the situation can be resolved, “But if not, we will have our questions answered. And those who are seeking to take advantage will be held accountable.”

Andretti officials are tipped to meet with their F1 counterparts this weekend at the Miami GP.

Andretti Global said in a statement: “We are grateful to the bipartisan members of Congress for their support in challenging this anti-competitive behaviour.

“It is our hope that this can be resolved swiftly so that Andretti-Cadillac can take its rightfully approved place on the grid in 2026.”

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