Racing Legend and 1978 Formula 1 World Champion, Mario Andretti shared his thoughts early Saturday morning with a small panel of journalists, speaking candidly about numerous aspects of the future of Formula 1. Andretti voiced his support regarding the changes occurring in Formula 1 as a pivotal chance for new talent to enter the industry and make it's mark.
Young driver talent such as Alexander Rossi and Connor Daly peaked his interest, with the possibility just over the horizon of either having a seat in Formula 1. Andretti continued by explaining his support for the ‘third car’ concept that’s been floating around F1 recently. A third car would, as he explains, allow teams to field a car for ‘guest drivers’ which would open the door for a number of younger drivers to test their skills.
Already becoming a reality with a new team entry to Formula 1 in 2016 by an American team, Haas F1 Team, could usher in a new era where American talent is seen in somewhere other than the drivers seat. Andretti, when asked about the potential of an American manufacturer entering the sport, was enthusiastic about seeing a major American brand such as GM or Ford making it's way to the F1 paddock. Many years off from a reality however, Andretti acknowledged the dramatic shift that would need to occur but remains optimistic given the rising interest in American involvement in Formula 1 underway.
Andretti cautioned Haas F1 Team, noting that the ‘formula’ they have chosen to pursue is one that may cause some friction between the team and the rest of the paddock.
With a team based in Charlotte, NC, Haas F1 Team faces many challenges to establishing a sustainable team. The F1 paddock’s culture is deeply rooted in the greater London area, it will be very difficult to attract the necessary expertise and resources back to Charlotte, NC.
Furthermore, the changes in team participation as a result of the recent administrative action of Marussia and Caterham prompted Andretti to note that the budget crisis facing the smaller teams has and will continue to be a part of F1 in the future. “That’s been there from Day 1. It’s always been the case. But it is what it is.” Formula 1 is not unique in this arena as “NASCAR has their struggles, Indy Car has their struggles...that’s forever there,” according to Andretti, and breaking the mold will be tremendously difficult.