Michael Andretti says his ongoing ambition to bring Andretti Global to the Formula 1 grid is part of a multi-tier plan that would replicate one of his greatest success stories in North America.
Through the Indiana-based Andretti Autosport team, the 1991 CART IndyCar Series champion has been among the most prolific entrants in junior open-wheel racing, earning multiple drivers’ and teams’ titles in the USF Championships presented by Cooper Tires and Indy NXT by Firestone.
If Andretti Global is granted entry to F1, he says a new European training ladder would be established using the formula he’s developed to bring the likes of Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward, Kyle Kirkwood and countless others up the ladder to IndyCar.
“We would set up shop over in England where we’re going to have the engineering shop for the F1 team,” Andretti told RACER. “If the F1 deal comes through, I want to do Formula 3 and Formula 2 as well. I want to be in control of bringing our drivers up through the system, because then you know what kind of equipment they have and how they’re being treated.”
One of the difficult parts of evaluating next-generation talent comes with understanding the advantages or hinderances a driver experiences within the various teams in open-wheel training categories. As he’s accomplished in USF and NXT, Andretti would like to remove those questions by creating an internal pipeline of his own making.
“It’s hard to judge the drivers coming up through the ranks over there,” Andretti added. “Because if somebody’s got a big pocketbook, they get better treatment than a guy that’s got more talent, but that’s not how we do things in our teams. So that’s a goal I want to set up over there.”
Winners of three of the last four Indy NXT (formerly Indy Lights) championships, Andretti fields four entries this season for returning NXT race winner Hunter McElrea from New Zealand, reigning USF Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster from England, triple W Series champion Jamie Chadwick from the UK, and Ireland’s James Roe.