Back in 1993 Michael Andretti got his shot at Formula One partnering with Ayrton Senna at the McLaren team for the first 13 rounds of the season. With a string of retirements and alleged sabotage, Andretti scored no more than 7 World Championship points while teammate Senna scored ten times as many that season. Ultimately Andretti was canned from the team and sent back to CART in deference to Mikka Hakkinen, who would be far less expensive for McLaren to employ. He burned out in F1 once, but now according to a report from Racer.com, he’s looking to come back, this time as a team boss.
There aren’t many Americans involved in Formula One these days, but the most successful of them recently has to be McLaren boss Zak Brown. Andretti and Brown have collaborated on many racing efforts in the recent past, including McLaren’s return to IndyCar in 2017. It makes a lot of sense that Andretti would want to follow Brown’s trajectory into the highest echelon of motorsport.
According to Racer, Andretti has been in discussion with multiple teams to stage a buyout or strategic partnership, including Haas F1, Alfa Romeo Sauber, and Williams Grand Prix Engineering. Nothing is set in stone yet, obviously, but it seems that things are further along than Andretti’s words might indicate.
“It would be great, but there’s a long way to go if it were to happen,” Andretti told RACER. “If the right opportunity comes up, we’ll be all over it. But we’re not there yet.”
Outside of its tentpole four-car IndyCar effort, Andretti already fields four cars in Indy Lights, the two-car BMW Formula E effort (which BMW has departed effective the end of the current season), and an LMP3 entry for Jarrett Andretti in IMSA’s LMP3 class. Andretti has partnered with Zak Brown’s non-McLaren United Autosport to field cars in Australian Supercars, Aussie GT, and the Extreme E electric off-road championship.
The factory-supported Alfa Romeo team is run by Sauber Motorsport based around a strategic partnership with Ferrari as engine supplier. That Alfa title branding is always in limbo, as the deal has been made contingent on “yearly assessments” from now onward. The Switzerland-based team has a nice wind tunnel facility on site. Michael’s world champion father Mario did run in F1 with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari during his day, so that could at least be a good story. The Sauber team was sold to Longbow Capital in 2016, and that could be a good place for Michael to wedge himself in.
Williams Grand Prix Engineering seems like an interesting prospect for Michael as the team has engine supply support from the far more successful Mercedes-AMG. There is definitely some momentum with the Williams team, as they’ve been on an up swing for the last couple of seasons, due in large part to their contract with Mercedes and young driver George Russell. This one seems less likely to me, but being that Williams is no longer owned by the Williams family, who sold the company to Dorilton Capital last year, it would be a good opportunity to pass the team from one legendary motorsports family to another.
The final point of discussion is the Haas team. With two young drivers, a terrible car, and an even worse team boss in Guenther Steiner, I don’t see much redemption in this team. I’m not sure why Andretti would buy in to Gene Haas’ disaster of a team, but I guess if your goal is to be on the F1 grid, it’s a place to start. Then again, if I were Gene, I’d want to offload this steaming pile of shit team ASAP, and would take a nice discount.
Whatever happens, please don’t let Marco drive. It’s just not his year.