Horner: Andretti rejection 'purely down to F1 business model'

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Formula 1’s opposition to accepting Andretti Global within its ranks is justified by the sport’s business model, not by any anti-American stance.

Andretti Cadillac’s quest to join the grid in 2026 took a political turn earlier this month when members of the US Congress expressed their strong concerns about how Andretti’s request to enter F1 was handled by Formula One Management.

This week, six US Senators called on the Justice Department and FTC to also investigate F1's decision to reject Andretti's application.

This political pressure adds a new dimension to the saga. But undeterred by F1’s forceful stance, Andretti continues to actively prepare for its potential entry.

The US outfit has opened a new facility at Silverstone, a strategic location for F1 development. Furthermore, to bolster its technical capabilities, Andretti has recruited high-profile figures like former Renault F1 technical director Nick Chester and hired the consulting services of former F1 CTO Pat Symonds.

Despite these efforts, Andretti's bid for a 2026 debut seems unlikely. F1 legend Mario Andretti himself said that he was personally told by Liberty Media boss Greg Maffei that he would do everything possible to block the team’s F1 endeavor.

Horner, likely concerned about dilution of revenue linked to expanding the grid to 11 teams, expressed surprise at Andretti's strategy and defended the teams’ current stance.

“We’re US-owned, we have five Fortune 500 companies on our car, and I think that this isn’t about anything to do with Andretti being American or anything like that,” said the Red Bull boss in Monaco on Friday.

“It’s purely down to the business model that is Formula 1.

“I remember not so long ago that there would always be two teams at the tail end of the grid needing to be bailed out or being technically insolvent.

“We finally got into a position where there’s great strength and health in Formula 1 and Liberty have to be congratulated for that because they’ve created a model where even the worst team in Formula 1 probably has a billion-dollar valuation.

“Liberty have created that model, I think the approach that they bought by opening the sport as well and bringing a new fandom and new fans into the sports, they have to be commended on.

“I was surprised to see that Andretti have gone down this process but hopefully if they really want to find a way onto the grid they will find it and but I think the most natural solution is for them to acquire an existing franchise should one want to sell.”

Sauber director Alessandro Alunni Bravi was in full agreement with Horner’s comments.

“I think that Audi shows the right path to come to Formula 1.

“Of course, Cadillac is a big player and it qualifies this project as a potentially good project. But there is a way, that is to buy into an existing team.”

On the political front, Peter Bayer, CEO of Visa Cash App RB seems unfazed by the potential for an antitrust investigation into F1's handling of Andretti's application, suggesting F1 has legal grounds for rejecting the new team, despite pressure from the US government.

“Not really, because I think, as we’ve mentioned before, there are very clear procedures,” Bayer said.

“The FIA has done a technical analysis. Formula 1 has then analysed the commercial potential, and that’s sort of, I think, the environment we are currently dealing with.

“I certainly believe that, you know, the sport has done a lot to reach out to the United States. We have three races in the US. We [RB] have two American sponsors.

“So I think the sport as a whole is embracing the United States, but has nothing to do with what we’ve just heard.”

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