Mario Andretti says his son Michael’s attempts to enter his own Formula 1 team will definitely include him run at least one American driver and potentially two, with Colton Herta in the frame.
The 1978 Formula 1 world champion tweeted the news of Andretti’s ongoing project to enter his own team on Friday, with a target of 2024 for its first race. Speaking to RACER about those plans, Andretti Sr. says the timing is right with so much renewed U.S. interest in F1, and that would be added to by the intended driver line-up.
“That (timing) is huge, exactly,” Andretti said. “That plays all the way around. I think it’s got to be adding some interest too as far as the fanbase with more races, two races now in the U.S. and to have another U.S. team in Formula 1…
“And then the important thing to also have — he’s going to definitely start with at least one American driver, which more than likely is going to be Colton. I’d put my money on that kid any day, I just feel that he’s something very special and it’s not just words, he’s proving it and it’s fun to watch him doing his things. Michael has been able to be part of that — cultivated him right from the beginning when he came out of Europe in Formula 4 when he drove alongside people like Lando Norris. People like that know him, so he has a great feel for these things.
“Look what he’s done so far in the IndyCar Series. Already won six races, pole positions against the best that IndyCar has got to offer, so don’t take that lightly. That’s pure talent, because everybody in IndyCar has the same equipment, basically, so the onus is a lot more on the driver. It would be lovely to see an American that really wants to be there and he’s one of them.
“Michael can provide that vehicle unless he gets an opportunity sooner, and Michael would let him go. But he’s one, and Michael will arm himself with at least one American driver, maybe two. But it’s going to be at least one, and that’s important. It’s been a long time since we had an American driver in F1.
“It all plays. With the Netflix show (“Drive To Survive”) that’s been floating around for a couple of years now, I think that has awakened a lot of the fanbase here but also cultivated some new fanbase — we’ve seen that. Look at the crowd they had at COTA for the weekend, that was really unbelievable. So that’s it, all of it is coming together I think. Formula 1 is in a good place and you want to be part of it.”
Andretti says the project would eventually see Formula 2 and Formula 3 teams entered in order to provide a ladder for more American drivers to reach F1.
“Michael is a great believer of that, cultivating talent. He’s done that in the Indy series, bringing them through Indy Lights and all of those farm programs. That’s another thing — you don’t want to put the cart before the horse but he says once we’re in there in the series he says we’re going to field a Formula 2 and Formula 3 team. This is long, long, long-term planning. And how many Formula 1 teams do that? Not too many. But they will and that’s what Michael has done. How many teams in IndyCar are doing that? Not too many, but Michael is doing it.”
Click here to read the full interview with Mario Andretti about the planned team.