The FIA confirmed on Monday that it had accepted Andretti Formula Racing LLC formal application to become an entrant in Formula 1.
After successfully completing the governing body’s stringent 'Phase 2' evaluation process - and being the only team from four candidates to have passed the FIA’s screening procedure - Andretti will now submit its application to Formula 1.
The FIA’s 'Phase 1' selection process consisted in a review of the 'Expression of Interest' files submitted by potential teams earlier this year, with four teams - Andretti, Rodin Carlin, Hitech and Asian outfit LKYSUNZ - making it to the 'Phase 2' stage.
As this point, the FIA's assessment of each application was based on sporting, technical and financial analysis. But its thorough review also included sustainability and positive societal impact criteria.
"The FIA was very clear in establishing stringent criteria for entry from the outset of the Expressions of Interest procedure," said FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayam ina statement released on Monday.
"Our objective, after rigorous due diligence during the application phase, was to only approve prospective entries which satisfied the set criteria and illustrated that they would add value to the sport.
"The FIA is obliged to approve applications that comply with the Expressions of Interests application requirements and we have adhered to that procedure in deciding that Andretti Formula Racing LLC’s application would proceed to the next stage of the application process. In taking that decision, the FIA is acting in accordance with EU directives on motor sport participation and development.
"Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfils the selection criteria that was set in all material respects. I congratulate Michael Andretti and his team on a thorough submission. I also want to thank all prospective teams for their interest and participation.
"The Expressions of Interest process builds on the positive acceptance of the FIA’s 2026 F1 Power Unit Regulations among existing OEMs which has also attracted further commitment from Audi, Honda and Ford and interest from Porsche and General Motors.
"I would like to thank all of the FIA team members involved in the Expressions of Interest process for their tireless efforts in ensuring a diligent assessment of all of the applications received."
Although the FIA rubber-stamping Andretti's bid is good news for the prospective F1 team, its biggest hurdle remains ahead.
Formula 1, through the voice of its chief executive officer Stefano Domenicali, has repeatedly expressed its opposition to expanding its grid to eleven teams.
And following the FIA's release on Monday, Formula 1 acknowledged the governing body's decision without expanding on the development.
"We note the FIA's conclusions in relation to the first and second phases of their process and will now conduct our own assessment of the merits of the remaining application," it said.
F1 and its franchisees have argued that adding another team would only dilute the sport's existing pool of prize money, even despite Andretti paying a hefty $200 million 'anti-dilution' one-time entry fee that would go straight into the teams' coffers.
"As we always said, we need to make sure that the decision is right for the business," commented Domenicali last summer.
"And this is what I think is the duty of the FIA and us together, that has to be taken. So that is another decision that will be taken in the next couple of months."
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been personally supportive of Andretti's efforts and claimed that its entry would be hard to refuse for F1 given the US outfit's prestigious track record and also given its partnership with major automotive manufacturer GM/Cadillac.
"I think why F1 and the teams have survived in the last years is because we all stuck together," explained Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in Singapore last month.
"The FIA, FOM and the 10 teams, we need to protect the sport. We're holding this sensitive sport that's growing at the moment in our hands.
"And that's why the right decisions need to be taken all of us together, when it comes to, let's say, a mindset and then obviously the FIA and F1 when it comes to these decisions, because it's out of the teams' hands.
"But I would hope that Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and Stefano will take the right decisions for F1."
Let the arm wrestling begin...