United States Congress demanding answers on Andretti F1 bid

Earlier this year Formula One Management (FOM), the commercial rights holders for Formula One, denied a prospective bid from Andretti Motorsport and General Motors (Andretti) to join the F1 grid. Now a group is seeking answers regarding that denial.

Members of the United States Congress.

In a letter directed to Gregory Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty Media Corporation — the company that owns F1 — four members of Congress are expressing “concerns with apparent anti-competitive actions that could prevent two American companies, Andretti Global and General Motors (GM), from producing and competing in Formula 1.”

In addition, the members of Congress assert that the rejection “ … appears to be driven by the current line-up of European Formula 1 race teams, many of which are affiliated with foreign automobile manufacturers that directly compete with American automotive companies like GM. It is unfair and wrong to attempt to block American companies from joining Formula 1, which could also violate American antitrust laws.”

Specifically, the members of Congress are requesting answers to four specific questions:

  • “Under what authority does FOM proceed to reject admission of Andretti Global? What is the rationale for FOM’s rejection, especially with respect to Andretti Global and its partner GM, potentially being the first American-owned and American-built race team?”
  • “How does FOM’s denial of Andretti Global and GM, American-=owned companies, square with Sherman Act requirements, since the decision will benefit incumbent European racing teams and their foreign automobile manufacturing affiliates?” The Sherman Antitrust Act, passed in 1890, governs and prescribes the idea and notion of free competition among those engaged in commerce.
  • “How much did GM’s and Andretti’s entrance into racing competition taking a portion of the racking market share and GM’s entry into the European market taking market share each play into the decision to deny admission to the Andretti Global team, given the public outcry of Formula 1 teams against a new American competitor?”

As you can see from many of these questions raised by the members of Congress, they point to the outcry from many existing teams about an 11th team joining the F1 grid.

The four members of Congress who signed the letter — John James (R-MI), Don G. Davis (D-NC), Jim Banks (R-IN), and Jake Ellzey (R-TX) are requesting a response by May 3, just as the Miami Grand Prix is getting underway.

In addition to the letter, which you can read in full here, Mario Andretti was on Capitol Hill Wednesday where he appeared with additional members of Congress on behalf of the team:

At this point, there has not been a response from Liberty Media or FOM to the request from Congress.

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