Home » Cadillac And Andretti Want To Join F1 With An American Driver. Here’s Why That Would Be A Huge Deal

Cadillac And Andretti Want To Join F1 With An American Driver. Here’s Why That Would Be A Huge Deal

Andretti F1 Cadillac

In 2023, no place will host more Formula One races than the United States. And yet, there are no American automakers in F1 and there hasn’t been a consistent American driver for over a decade. America’s foremost non-NASCAR racing brand Cadillac and the Andretti family want to change that with an American brand and an American driver as soon as possible.

With all the other things happening this last week it didn’t get much attention that the president of the FIA (the governing body for most international racing) put out a tweet saying that he wanted to expand the FIA grid:

This is a big deal as, for the most part, even the new teams in F1 are just rebadges of exiting teams (Jordan became Midland became Spyker became Force India became Racing Point became Aston Martin).

Cadillac Hypercar

F1 is enormously expensive and American automakers have been content to race in NASCAR, with Ford/GM/Chrysler occasionally competing at Le Mans, though typically in the sports car classes (Cadillac, it’s worth noting, is going back to Le Mans with this beautiful hypercar.)

So why now? Let’s list the reasons, in chronological order:

1. The Senna Effect

Senna DtsCredit to my old boss JF Musial for good timing with this Road & Track piece on how Asif Kapadia’s wonderful 2010 film Senna, covering the life and death of Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, sparked an interest in the sport.

2. The Sport Comes Back To America

After a disastrous end to racing at Indy, a surging NASCAR made F1 barely a necessity in the United States and there was a five-year drought. Then, in 2012, the brand new Circuit of the Americas hosted the first rebranded U.S. Grand Prix. I was there (with Patrick) and it was a lot of fun and super strange because no one seemed to know what to do with it.

3. Liberty Media Buys F1

An American company, Liberty Media, buys F1. The old guard who owned F1, in my opinion, did a bad job with the sport. It was resistant to social media. It was still enamored with linear TV deals. If you were an American, there was not a huge reason to watch it, even if NBC Sports (which, full disclosure, I did some work with) did an ok job at trying to broadcast it.

When Liberty Media bought the company they opened the doors to social media and improved accessibility to the sport via streaming platforms. They also opened the door to Netflix.

4. Drive To Survive

NetflixdtsTechnically, in between all of this, an American company fronted by Gene Haas started an F1 team called Haas F1. What’s more important is at the same time Liberty Media gave access to a production company and Netflix to film behind-the-scenes of F1 and expose fans to the drama of the sport and teams like Haas and Red Bull. It was an enormous success and made even backmarker drivers suddenly famous in the United States.

5. The Expansion of F1 Races

First it was Austin. Then, last year, it was Miami. Next year it’s Austin, Miami, and Las Vegas. That’s more races than anywhere else on the planet. What’s missing is an American driver and an American brand.

Why It’s A Big Deal

We know that next year we’ll have Logan Sargeant as America’s first regular representation in years, but he’s still racing for a British team. Enter Cadillac and Andretti. Here’s what they say in their press release:

Today Andretti Global and General Motors, two American powerhouses in the automotive and motorsport sectors, have announced their intent to pursue the opportunity to compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship. GM would be represented by the Cadillac brand. The Andretti Cadillac team would be based in the U.S. with a support facility in the U.K.

This reunites two iconic American companies with deep motorsports pedigrees and provides the opportunity to build on previous racing accomplishments while expanding international reach for both brands. F1 has seen consistent growth globally and most recently in the U.S. with 2023 races in Austin, Miami and Las Vegas.

The Andretti Cadillac team is planning to submit an Expression of Interest when the FIA opens the formal process. If selected, the team is seeking to compete as soon as practical with at least one American driver.

I probably don’t have to explain why Mario Andretti is important, but he’s the last American to win an F1 season and that was in 1978!

F1 remains enormously expensive and there’s no promise that Cadillac goes through with it, but it makes a lot of sense from a brand perspective.

This is breaking news. This story is being updated.

Photos: Netflix, Apple, GM

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38 Responses

  1. Gotta admit I’m one of the people who had very little interest in F1 (although I do respect it for it being the pinnacle of motorsport) until I started watching Drive to Survive. Even my wife got into it.

    1. I started watching when Haas joined, which was a year or two before DTS. Unfortunately Haas hasn’t exactly been on an upward swing, but they were my gateway and I’ve been hooked ever since. I think the amount of money, small number of major players, and continuity over the past 10 years have really amped up the drama, even if DtS does overplay certain angles. DtS gives you an entirely inaccurate view of what happened throughout the season, but it also gives you a ton of behind the scenes details and information that you won’t get from watching the races, and it’s presented in a much more palatable format for most people.

      1. Agreed about DtS, disagree about the racing. 2021 was probably the most exciting season in F1 history. 2022 definitely tailed off at the end, but started strong. There’s always the possibility that someone will come into 2023 with some crazy idea that shakes up the field, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

  2. This news makes me very happy. I was/am a GM kid. Lots of family ties to the company and to this day I still heed the same vision as my old man, which is that owning a Caddy is the true sign of success. It’s not overly ostentatious, classy yet subtle, Detroit pride, etc.. I don’t really care what anyone else says, when I’m in a Caddy it just _feels good_ to me.

    I follow F1 from a short distance. By that I mean I pay attention to it but have no real skin in the game. I just like fast cars racing. Now, if Caddy is involved…I can actually root specifically for a team/driver, which is magnitudes better.

  3. “F1 remains enormously expensive and there’s no promise that Cadillac goes through with it, but it makes a lot of sense from a brand perspective.”

    It actually kind of doesn’t, considering that Cadillac has already committed to an all-EV future.

  4. This is massive news. The FIA would be stupid not to approve this (assuming all of their ducks are in a row).

    You did forget one main reason why so many manufacturers are interested. The cost cap has drastically reduced how much you have to spend to be competitive. Ferrari and Mercedes were spending $500M/year and above to be competitive. Now you’re capped at $120M (not including driver pay, some top employees, and some other costs). Obviously they’d need to build out facilities so the initial cost outlay would be pretty massive, but sustaining your team will probably come in around $200M per year, which makes it much more viable and lucrative to manufacturers.

  5. If you’re an American enthusiast how could you not be excited for this? I don’t see any downsides if they pull it off. It’ll be a huge boon for brand recognition for an American manufacturer, it’ll help to expand Formula 1 in the US and draw in lots more viewers who may not have paid attention previously, the technology will trickle down into more awesome American performance cars, I could keep going but I will simply conclude with a HELL YEAH BROTHERRRRR!

    Also Cadillac had a Le Mans prototype in the early 2000s as well. I don’t remember it faring particularly well, but it was out there…and during that time absolutely no one could do anything about the Audi R8s anyway. Those things were absolute juggernauts. Anyway, I’m drooling at the possibilities of what Cadillac may give us performance car wise down the road if this happens. I’m here for more hybrid performance sedans.

    1. I was about to page Bishop myself. Cadillac hasn’t done a sports car/”luxury roadster” since the XLR and no coupe since the controversial and unpopular ELR. If they do partner with Renault, could that mean a Cadillac cousin of the Alpine A110 for the States?

        1. Yes I do, it’s not like we’re getting it the U.S. any other way anytime soon. Even if the euro-spec A110s end up being better, a worse version existing in America is better than no version existing in America.

  6. “The Andretti Cadillac team would be based in the U.S. with a support facility in the U.K.”
    Hmmmmm… Anyone taking bets on where the cars will actually be designed and built?

  7. Pretty much all motorsport is a rich man’s game but F1 takes it to such an insufferable degree. All the goofy watch brands, luxury stuff and petrostate involvement brings my interest to zero.

  8. All I want—more than anything in the world—are slab pace cars at COTA if this happens.

    This is Caddy country through and through. We do it big. World’s drivers champs, meet our People’s Champ. The driver’s parade would lend itself well to some gentle swangin’.

    This must happen.

      1. It would never work for tons of reasons, but now I’m picturing a ‘restomod’ 60s Eldorado (yeah, basically a shell on a tube chassis) as the pace car for COTA. Damn that’d be awesome.

      2. What about the huge Caddy that brought Shaq (I think it was?) to podium celebrations at COTA the last 2 editions? (Convertible with the horns on the hood)

    1. I think you’d have to, wouldn’t you? I couldn’t see them buying an engine from Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, or Honda (or Audi). Maybe if Honda stayed out they could have bought from Red Bull Powertrains, but not now.

    2. According to The Drive: “GM nor Cadillac will be the engine supplier for this new team. Instead, GM will work with an existing F1 engine supplier.”

        1. No, their whole entry is based on creating an 11th team, it’s what Andretti’s wanted all along. Buying a team is no big deal, they could have done that already if they wanted. Creating a team requires a bunch of approvals, money, and proof that you can do it.

          That said, having a new team doesn’t mean you have to build your own engine. I’m guessing they’ll go with Honda, but we’ll see.

    3. Andretti has said that they would use Renault engines for their prospective entry, so it will probably just be rebranded as Cadillac similar to how Red Bull had Tag Heuer badged engines after their relationship with Renault soured. If they are to do an engine project I can’t see it before 2026 as F1 will have a new engine formula with cheaper and less complex power units.

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