Andretti: No reason for 'disrespectful' Wolff to look down on us


Motorsport legend Mario Andretti has hit back at Mercedes boss Toto Wolff's comments regarding Michael Andretti's efforts to join the grid in Formula 1.

The American team owner is still waiting on the FIA to green light the entry process for Andretti Global, the entity that has been set up for the specific purpose of racing in F1.

But F1's top outfits, and indeed Grand Prix racing's boss Stefano Domenicali, are taking a protectionist approach on new teams joining the fray, arguing that adding an eleventh team on the grid would potentially dilute the portion of revenue shared by the sport's entrants.

However, a mandatory $200 million anti-dilution fee paid by Andretti would cover the ten teams' reduced revenue, but only for a two-year period.

From the outset, Wolff has expressed his concerns with expanding the grid, insisting that any new team must demonstrate that its presence will bring in more money than it will take away from the sport's current ten teams.

Wolff contends that Andretti has so far not demonstrated that its entry will boost the sport's revenue in the long term or add value to the field of competitors.

The Austrian's comments, while perceived as reasonable in the eyes of his fellow team principals, have not gone down well with the Andretti family, and particularly with its famous patriarch.

"Toto Wolff has spoken very openly about our credibility," Mario Andretti told Auto Motor und Sport. "However, he speaks to me in a different way.

"I find the criticism very disrespectful because we have been active in motorsport much longer than he has. I respect his success so far, but he has no reason to look down on us."

The 1978 F1 World Champion says his son's dialogue with the FIA has so far been positive. But the 1969 Indy 500 winner believes that F1's team may be holding out for more money to be paid by Andretti.

"The FIA is very open to us and we have fulfilled all the requirements," he said. "Now we are waiting for them to give us a number, what it costs to pay the teams to let us in.

"We know it's in the $200 million range. Now they may want more, but we're still waiting for feedback. It's bordering on usury.

"It would be different with Bernie, Liberty gives the teams too much say."

Andretti also alleviated concerns that anyone in F1 may have about how competitive the prospective team would be or about the stability of its financial foundation.

"They always ask how we want to be competitive. I say: let that be our problem! You don’t know our preparations," said Mario.

"We don’t need to sign any new people at all, we have absolutely experienced people who have the necessary knowledge.

"On the financial side, we have credible partners who are aware of the size of the project. We’ve been planning for a long time with our programme because it’s everything we want.

"We deserve more respect."

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