• Italian-American says a potential buyout is ‘fabulous news’
• Andretti insists there is room for two grands prix in the US
Mario Andretti believes Formula One has gone ‘overboard with the technical side of things’ and
should make itself more consumer friendly. Photograph: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images for Shell
Mario Andretti, the face of Formula One in America, says his adopted country can rescue the sport from its troubles and should stage two races not one.
Andretti, responding to the news that the Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, is in talks with financial backers in Qatar to buy out CVC Capital Partners’ majority 35.5% stake in F1, said: “This is fabulous news and music to my ears.
“In America we have the mind-set to make things happen. It’s a huge market. I can’t see any negatives. A solid investment would spell stability for the sport.
“This is the perfect place to market and showcase F1. It would be a damn good thing. And it would mean more involvement from sponsors that are large corporations and have a global presence.”
Andretti, 75, the Italian-American who won the world title in 1978, is the official ambassador for the United States Grand Prix, which will be held in Austin for the fourth year in October.
He said: “There would be room for two races in the US. The other one would have to be in New York or California. The weather is more accommodating in California. But New York has not yet given up on the idea.”
But Andretti feels the sport could make itself more consumer-friendly. “I think they’ve gone a bit overboard with the technical side of things. And I don’t like to see drivers backing off to make their fuel last.”
He would also like to see a leading American driver given a chance as a guest competitor.
A CVC insider told the Guardian: “We should get out. We’ve been in Formula One for far too long. This deal makes sense for a dollar buyer because they will be paying less than they would have done six or nine months ago.”
CVC have made an estimated £5bn from the sport, more than four times what they paid when they took over in 2006. And £5bn is believed to be the money that Qatar Sports Investments, which owns Paris Saint-Germain, and Ross will have to find to take charge.
But F1 teams, left in the dark over recent developments, do not know where they stand. One team chief, who did not want to be named, said: “It all sounds very speculative at the moment. Who will be in charge?”
Another said: “I didn’t know anything about it – but then I’m not a shareholder. We could be moving out of the frying pan and into the fire.
“But not many people in the paddock are making any money so any change could be good. And American sport is highly valued and they have experience of success. And no one will buy F1 unless they feel they can make a success of it.”
Source by theguardian