The Formula 1 world has had a much-discussed week. For example, Andretti’s registration was rejected, Lewis Hamilton announced that he will leave for Ferrari in 2025, and Red Bull Racing opened an independent investigation into team boss Christian Horner. F1Maximaal discussed the latest news in an exclusive interview with former Formula 1 driver Michael Bleekemolen, who was particularly angry about the rejection of Michael Andretti’s registration.
Andretti Autosport is a big name in the racing world, including a team in the IndyCar Series. The team is also active in Formula E, where it employs the reigning world champion with Red Bull Racing simulator driver Jake Dennis. However, it turned out to be insufficient to gain access to Formula 1. “I think it is a very bad thing that Liberty Media, or the FOM (Formula One Management, ed.), ultimately does not want an eleventh team,” Bleekemolen quickly makes clear.
Bleekemolen hopes that fans will take action
In 1978, Bleekemolen shared the starting grid with Mario Andretti, who won the world title that year. Andretti senior fully supported his son Michael, also a former Formula 1 driver, in his attempt to get Andretti Autosport to join Formula 1, but that turned out to be in vain. For example, Formula 1’s statement said that ‘Andretti has no added value for Formula 1, but Formula 1 does for Andretti’. ‘Total bullshit what they say’, is Bleekemolen’s outspoken assessment.
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“I think that’s such strange nonsense,” the Amsterdammer adds. ‘If Andretti were to participate as a team, it would offer so much added value. That statement they made really makes no sense at all. I would like to give them a pat on the back for that from the fans. I would love it if people eventually started giving their cards back. I’ve read that somewhere, although I don’t know what the numbers are. I think it would be fantastic if they realized for once that it is also about the sport, and not just about the dollars,” says Bleekemolen.
Insult to Andretti
‘I think it’s a shame that they say that. I think it’s an insult to Andretti,” the 74-year-old said. ‘I think it is an insult to American motorsport. You can’t say that they don’t offer added value, can you? I think you’re really looking for a needle in a haystack if you’re looking for someone who finds that. Everyone likes this. Those who don’t like it are the ten teams and the organization’, Bleekemolen once again makes it clear that the financial aspect currently seems to be more important than the sporting aspect in the final decision.
The timing of the rejection is particularly striking, given that Formula 1 has been trying to make a definitive breakthrough in the United States in recent years, with now three Grands Prix per year, and the rising popularity as a result of Drive to Survive. “They are breaking their own windows,” Bleekemolen believes. ‘Maybe they think they already have it in order without an extra team, but in this case it is an American team, then you can be sure that you can generate even more attention there.’
Andretti’s rejection did not go down well in the United States, and it rained critical comments against Formula 1. “It simply cannot be explained,” says Bleekemolen. ‘Now I hope they get a kick out of the fans. Everyone thinks this is a strange experience, which they have set up there as a response to declare that they are not welcome. I think it is an insult to Andretti,” said Bleekemolen.