Formula 1

FIA President Confident in Andretti’s Formula One Bid Amid Legal Concerns

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem recently expressed optimism over Andretti’s entry into Formula One, downplaying the risk of legal challenges. This announcement comes in light of potential disputes between FIA and Formula One’s governing body, with Sulayem ensuring a harmonious relationship between the two entities.

Key Takeaways:

  • FIA Approval vs. FOM Decision: The FIA has greenlit Andretti’s Formula One entry, but official acceptance from Formula One Management (FOM) is pending, crucial for eligibility for championship prize money.
  • Legal Action Unlikely: Despite concerns about EU anti-competition law violations, Ben Sulayem is confident of avoiding court action, believing in a peaceful resolution.
  • Strategic American Inclusion: The partnership of Andretti with General Motors and Cadillac is seen as advantageous, aligning with Liberty Media’s American ownership of F1 commercial rights, potentially boosting the sport’s business prospects.

Amidst the fast-paced world of Formula One racing, a significant development has emerged. FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, in a statement before the Qatar Grand Prix, reaffirmed his positive outlook regarding Andretti’s prospective entry into Formula One. This announcement holds particular weight as it addresses the concerns of possible legal disputes and the relationship between FIA and Formula One’s governing body, F1.

The recent development around Andretti’s bid to join the Formula One grid has been a topic of much speculation. The FIA has shown its support for the team’s entry, but a formal agreement with Formula One Management (FOM), responsible for the commercial aspects of the sport, is yet to be secured. This agreement is essential as it would cement Andretti’s claim to a share in the championship prize fund. Despite the FIA’s endorsement, hesitation from FOM has been evident, influenced by reservations from existing teams and Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula One.

In a direct address to the media, Ben Sulayem stated, “No we won’t have to go to court. I don’t think any of us want to go to court. Maybe it sounds very exciting and threatening to the media, it’s like, oooh, it’s very very nice to them. But it will not go to court, I am sure of that. Why should we go to court?”

Ben Sulayem’s assurance resonates against the backdrop of growing skepticism. He emphasized the potential value of an American team in the championship, especially considering the American ownership of F1’s commercial rights by Liberty Media. The president noted the positive impact on share prices following the announcement, reflecting market confidence in the move.

“There are many aspects to this. First of all, you look at, it is an American, Liberty is an American company. I read that Liberty were approving and they were saying we would like to have an 11th team. And then looking at the share price, that it went up instead of down when we declared it, that’s good for them,” Ben Sulayem commented.

“And thirdly, to say no to an American OEM, it’s very hard. In the country, it’s good for business. If FOM refuses to have the funds, still the team can enter by the way, you know that? But, do you really think it will go that far? One thing I would say, I hope and I trust Stefano. Stefano doesn’t come from only commercial, Stefano comes from the automotive industry and the sport also.”

Despite existing tensions within the sport, particularly following the controversial end to the 2021 season and ongoing debates around sprint races, Ben Sulayem remains confident in the strength of the relationship between the FIA and Formula One. He underlined that every decision, including the admission of new teams, is made with the long-term enrichment of the sport in mind. His optimistic outlook presents a promising future for Formula One, potentially seeing it expand and diversify with the addition of Andretti and their significant backing.

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