Michael Andretti, team owner of IndyCar’s Andretti Autosport team and member of one of racing’s most famous families, might have just bought his way into ownership of the Alfa Romeo Formula One team, RaceFans and Pitlane Parley report.
This week, Andretti has moved closer to closing on a deal that would allow him to buy 80 percent of Islero Investments for a price of $404 million.
There’s a pretty complex story behind Islero Investments, but essentially, it’s an investment company owned by Longbow Finance S. A., which bought the Sauber team from Peter Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn back in 2016. ESPN reported at the time that the company had some vague ties to single-seater racing:
A little digging through company records available online does show some links between the mysterious Longbow Finance (first incorporated as Tepar Investment Management in 1963) and single-seater motorsport, irrespective of any possible links with Ericsson or his backers: Raymond J. Baer, president of the Longbow Finance board of directors, has a [resume] dominated by years spent with Swiss private bank Julius Bär, one of Formula E’s key sponsors.
Longbow is but one of many boards that Baer sits on - the Swiss financier is also president of the board of directors at Swiss investment firm Alpine Select, a position he has held since 2013; honorary chairman of both the Julius Baer Group Ltd. and Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. (since 2012); president of the board of trustees for the Pension Fund of the Julius Baer Group (since 2004), and many more besides.
Baer is incredibly well connected in the Swiss business and finance worlds. Away from Julius Bär the 57-year-old is a member of the advisory board of the Lorange Institute of Business Zurich and since 2001 has served as president of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce — Financial Services Chapter Board. But Baer also has an interest in the automotive sector, and in 2014 he was made a member of the board of AMAG Automobil- und Motoren AG, a major Swiss car dealer and importer founded in 1945 to bring luxury marques to Swiss clients.
Those aren’t exactly close ties, but ties nonetheless.
At the very least, Longbow has used Islero Investments to run the F1 team, which has since signed deals to use Ferrari power units and form a technical alliance with Alfa Romeo — hence the team’s current name.
So, were Andretti to actually close this deal by buying 80 percent of Islero Investments, his team would effectively be in control of both Sauber Motorsport and Sauber Engineering, which are owned by Islero. Basically, it would enable Andretti to run an F1 team without having to start one from scratch himself.
If this deal does go through, Michael Andretti will be the second American team on the grid, with the other being Haas. Unfortunately, as the standings currently sit, both Alfa Romeo and Haas are at the very bottom of the championship points barrel. Whether Andretti could lift the team from a backmarker to a solid midfield competitor remains to be seen.
In any case, the move would make sense for Andretti. In recent years, the team has expanded its scope beyond IndyCar to field teams in Formula E, Extreme E, Australian Supercars, rallycross, and IMSA. A move into F1 would very likely benefit the team as a whole in all disciplines.
We’ve reached out to Andretti and several people familiar with the details of the situation and will update this story should we find other information — but both Andretti Autosport and Alfa Romeo have been hesitant to talk to other reporters without a signed deal.