Former F1 world champion Mario Andretti says that plans for putting a new US team on the Formula 1 grid in 2024 are still continuing, despite a less than enthusiastic response from existing teams and the FIA.
Andretti Global filed the necessary paperwork with the sport's governing body in February, with Mario's son Michael - himself a former F1 driver with McLaren in the early 1990s and now an IndyCar team owner - at the helm.
But Toto Wolff and Christian Horner are among the team principals to come out against the application, with only McLaren's Zak Brown in favour of seeing Andretti on the grid.
“Honestly, it has been extremely disappointing, obviously, so far,” Mario Andretti said when asked by PlanetF1.com in an exclusive interview about the reaction to the application.
"But at the same time, we’re just trying to come up with whatever is asked of us. We’re trying to satisfy it, I don’t know what else we can do.
“We’re working every single day on this project, with the intention to be on the grid in 2024," he continued. "We’re preparing as if we were given the go-ahead.
"Michael is on it, and that’s what we expect to do. We’re certainly not giving up. It’s a very serious project for us, and we’re ready to make that investment.”
A new team joining the grid from scratch rather than taking over an existing entrant has to stump up $200 million to cover the the loss in revenue caused by more teams taking a share of the revenues and prize money.
Andretti came closest to a takeover deal with Sauber, but talks eventually fell apart. With no other viable candidates, Andretti turned its attention to setting up a brand new team based close to their existing IndyCar operation.
Even so, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has declared that only teams offering significant value such as Audi should be added to the grid, and that ten is the right number of teams for the sport for now.
“I think we can add to it," Andretti responded. “You hear different opinions sometimes, from different teams and so forth, and you wonder why there’s some disrespect out there that I don’t know that’s what we deserve.
“I don’t know what the reason is for some of those individuals but, honestly, it’s never easy. We have the will to keep fighting for it because we believe it’s a good thing for us.
"We want to contribute, the sport has been everything to us for our professional lives and I think we want to be able to contribute and continue to do that.”
"We’re trying to join Formula 1 for the long term. That’s something that we can guarantee. You make this type of an investment – you’re not going to go in and out. I think that there’s something to be said for that.
“Our intentions are good for the sport," he said. "I don’t know why that investment wouldn’t be good, especially when you’re looking at a season going to 24 races next year, where it’s going to be such incredible stress on all the teams
“To be able to ensure that you can guarantee a full grid, if you have a team or so potentially dropping out for a race or whatever, at least you have some insurance with 11 teams," he pointed out. "That’s 22 prospective drivers out there."
And Mario said that there was no cut-off point for their efforts, as far as the team was concerned.
“We’ve not drawn that, there’s no line in the sand yet," he insisted. “We’re working, working, working, on every possible angle. There are a lot of possibilities that are out there to continue. It’s full speed ahead.”