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Senators seek antitrust probe of F1 over rejecting Michael Andretti team

Christian Hall, Bloomberg News on

Published in Auto Racing

A bipartisan group of senators led by Amy Klobuchar urged the Justice Department to investigate whether Formula 1 is violating U.S. antitrust laws for rejecting a bid by Michael Andretti to join the multibillion-dollar motor racing series.

The senators cited concerns the racing series may be acting at the behest of foreign automakers to exclude the team because of its partnership with General Motors Co.’s Cadillac division.

Michael is the son of famed racer and former Formula 1 champion Mario Andretti.

The international motorsport governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, accepted the Andretti team’s bid last year, but F1’s commercial arm rejected it on the grounds the team couldn’t be competitive with the other 10 teams for at least another two years.

Formula 1, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, is part of billionaire John Malone’s sprawling Liberty Media empire.

Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs the Judiciary subcommittee overseeing U.S. antitrust law, and Mike Lee, the top Republican on the panel, sent a letter Tuesday to the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the Federal Trade Commission asking them to open investigations into the auto racing series.

The Andretti team “deserves a fair shot to compete,” Senator Todd Young, an Indiana Republican who also signed the letter, said in a social media post.

GM’s Cadillac division is supporting the Andretti team and plans to manufacture engines for the team as soon as 2028.

 

The F1 circuit holds 24 races across the globe, with three of them in the U.S., a growing and lucrative market for the sport.

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, home to GM, also signed the letter.

​​The senators said they are concerned F1 “is acting at the behest of its independent teams and other ‘key stakeholders,’ including foreign automakers.”

They questioned whether the action amounted to a “group boycott” in violation of U.S. antitrust law.

The racing series has a clear financial incentive to include an American team because of the three events in the U.S. and no reason to block including one unless F1 “is trying to insulate its current partners from competition,” they added.

The letter arrives at a time when legislators are particularly interested in F1’s actions due to a growing American fan base. House lawmakers held a press conference earlier this month with Mario Andretti to urge F1 to admit his team.


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