June 14, 2024

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US Congressman questions whether F1's Andretti block is a 'money grab'

US Congressman questions whether F1's Andretti block is a 'money grab'

Michigan Republican Congressman John James — who represents a district synonymous with General Motors — participated in a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday alongside Mario Andretti, the 1978 Formula 1 world champion and patriarch of the Andretti Global Team.

Formula One management, which is owned by Liberty, rejected Andretti's bid because “its evaluation process demonstrated that the presence of an XI team would not, on its own, provide value to the championship” and would place undue financial pressure on existing race promoters.

Along with 11 other members of Congress, James sent a letter demanding answers on his justifications and asking whether he had “unreasonable restrictions on market competition” that might conflict with US laws.

“I'll let you find out if this is cartel-type behavior,” James said. If this is anti-competitive and anti-monopoly behaviour.

“But from where I stand, when you have a company, Liberty Media, which also owns 30% of Live Nation, which literally this week is under investigation by… [Justice Department] Anti-competitive and monopolistic behaviour.

“Then when we get reports of people who will look you in the eye and say, ‘Look, we're too big to take on the responsibility, you should know how to talk to us’ — well, that doesn't work.” Here, that doesn't work when a big guy sticks his thumb up to a little guy.

He also questioned whether the FIA ​​was leaving room for Andretti to seize 11th place from 2028 to ensure he gets more money if F1 continues its rapid commercial expansion.

Michael Andretti

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Photography: Mark Sutton / Motorsport pictures

“From the outside, one might ask: Is this a money grab?” He told NBC News. “One might ask: Is Formula 1, is Liberty Media stretching the road to get a more exciting deal for themselves, so they can go from $200 million to $1 billion extracted from Andretti-Cadillac.

“At the same time, Andretti-Cadillac has demonstrated a commitment of, I think, millions of dollars a month in preparing for compliance standards for everything.

We hope we can solve this matter to do business together for our mutual benefit, but especially for America. But if not, our questions will be answered.

“Because we have a commitment to protecting American consumers, protecting American businesses, and that is our first loyalty. Those who seek to benefit will be held accountable.

“It's not just about supporting Andretti. It's about supporting the Americans.”

James raised the issue with US House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, who could add further scrutiny over Andretti being denied his place on the grid by subpoenaing Liberty executives to explain their position to the government.

Andretti (84 years old) said of the state of his team: “We did everything that was asked of us. I proudly represented the United States in my Formula 1 career. My proudest moment was standing at the top of the podium with the American national anthem playing.

Andretti Cadillac logo

Andretti Cadillac logo

Photography: Andretti Autosport

“Formula 1 is now so prominent in the United States with these three events, which is unprecedented. We have shown that we are ready with all the tools at our disposal, with great partners at our side.

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“We just need the green light. They gave us the green light and let us do our job. We were the only applicants to be approved by the FIA ​​to participate in Formula 1, and we only have one more step to go.

When contacted for comment, Formula 1 referred Motorsport.com to its previous statement on the issue of Andretti's rejected offer.