The news that General Motors has signed up with the FIA to become a
seventh F1 power unit supplier from 2028 is nothing short of a
bombshell. The American brand has already partnered with the
Andretti Global entry bid to become an 11th team on the grid –
potentially from 2025 – though the Andretti Cadillac Racing effort
has met stern pushback from the incumbent teams. So why is the news
of an engine supply such a big deal? Andretti’s fight Michael
Andretti has tried to get his team name on the grid for a number of
years. First came a failed bid to purchase the Sauber operation,
which collapsed at the 11th hour back in 2021, before the
Hinwil-based outfit eventually announced a deal with Audi to become
the works team from 2026. But last year, Andretti decided to go it
alone and announced a bit to join F1 as an 11th team. F1 and the
existing teams hardly batted an eyelid between the various parties
but the FIA and President Mohammed Ben Sulayem caused a stir by
triggering an Expression of Interest Process earlier this year,
during which five teams applied to potentially join the grid.
Andretti’s bid had always been the most vocal but still could not
win favour with F1. The biggest issue has been with the value and
what any new team could add, given the slice of prize-money pie
each team is handed out under the Concorde Agreement would shrink
with another party sitting at the table. Flimsiness to the value
With this issue in mind, Andretti entered a partnership with GM to
create the Andretti Cadillac Racing entry. While at first it seemed
a masterstroke – why wouldn’t it be as one of the world’s biggest,
most powerful car brands was now involved – it was quickly pointed
out that there was no great material value being added. Yes, GM and
specifically Cadillac was a huge draw, especially for the American
market, but there was no technological value to the deal. It was
much more akin to the existing Alfa Romeo-Sauber deal that sees the
Italian marque essentially badging the team rather than the
prospective Audi-Sauber deal that sees the German giant take a
stronghold of technical matters. So whilst the move was positive,
there was still a flimsiness to the bid if scrutiny was applied to
the value being added. Many teams, including Williams through Team
Principal James Vowles, pointed out that GM would be welcome in F1
with their teams or as a standalone, but not simply tagged along
with a new, independent outfit. Nevertheless, GM President Mark
Reuss doubled down in an interview with AP and insisted it would
only join F1 with Andretti – the reasons for that now becoming
clear. The date where fortunes changed In the meantime, Andretti
had passed the first two phases of the entry process – both handled
by the FIA. No other team had managed to do so, underlining the
apparent strength of the American outfit’s proposal. But the
toughest phase remains – commercial discussions with F1, where the
value of the new team will be put to the test. Before, there was
enough reason to doubt just how serious any added value could be
from ACR. After all, it was almost destined to use an
Alpine-Renault engine and run as an independent team. What value
could that bring? Rightly or wrongly, it felt as though fate would
have it that Andretti would not enter F1 for the above reason. A
shame for the spectacle, but perhaps sensible from a business
perspective – at least that’s what almost every Team Principal has
said over the past 12 months. Yet it all changes with GM’s
announcement that it has signed up as a power unit supplier. Not
only is it a marker of commitment to the sport, it presents
Andretti with an answer to the biggest argument its prospective
rivals were making. It will essentially become a works team for a
car giant, pitting Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Renault, Audi
and Cadillac against each other on the world stages – and
furthermore, the brands of Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford, Daimler, Renault
and GM. If that’s not value, nothing will ever be good enough
frankly. The announcement is a mic-drop moment for Andretti’s entry
bid. If the team does join F1, November 14 2023 will be the date
when the fortunes changed.

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