Andretti shocked by Liberty chief’s vow to block F1 team’s entry

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Mario Andretti says Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei personally told him that he would go out of his way to block Andretti Global’s entry into F1, an explicit stance that shocked the F1 legend.

Andretti recounted a sinister run-in with Maffei in Miami and how the ominous shadow of power loomed over him.

The 1978 F1 World Champion said the Liberty chief executive suddenly butted into a conversation he was having with F1 boss Stefano Domenicali on the Saturday of the Miami GP weekend to deliver a dire warning, before walking away.

“Mr Maffei broke into the conversation and he said: ‘Mario, I want to tell you that I will do everything in my power to see that Michael never enters Formula 1,'” Andretti told NBC.

“I could not believe that. That one really floored me.

“We’re talking about business. I didn’t know it was something so personal. That was really — oh, my goodness. I could not believe it. It was just like a bullet through my heart.”

While the FIA greenlit Andretti's application in October 2023, Formula One Management threw a wrench into the US outfit’s the plans by rejecting their entry in January 2024.

Undeterred, Andretti has pressed forward with preparations for a potential 2026 debut.

Last month, Andretti established a technical base in Silverstone, UK, staffed with approximately 80 personnel.

Greg Maffei, Liberty Media Chief Executive Officer, with F1 boss Stefano Domenicali.

Furthermore, the team announced earlier this week the high-profile hiring of Pat Symonds as a consultant, a significant coup for Andretti.

Symonds, a former FOM chief technical officer, brings invaluable experience to the table. The Briton played a key role in shaping the current technical regulations and even helped develop the new rules scheduled for 2026 – precisely when Andretti hopes to be joining the fray.

FOM's decision to block Andretti has generated significant controversy, particularly in the United States. This week, six US senators sent a letter to the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, expressing concerns over FOM's stance.

The letter highlights the potential economic benefits of an American team in F1, questioning FOM's motives for exclusion. The senators suggest that barring Andretti could be a move to "insulate its current partners from competition," raising potential antitrust concerns.

“Clearly there is a financial incentive to adding an American team to F1’s roster, and there is no reason they should be blocked unless [Formula One Management] is trying to insulate its current partners from competition,” they stated.

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