Roger Diez: GM exploring entering Formula 1

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

Last week we looked at the makeup of the NASCAR Cup top teams for 2023. This week we’ll review the Formula 1 lineups and discuss a recent announcement that may stoke American interest in the sport as much as the Miami and Las Vegas races have done.

The top end of the F1 grid is unchanged from last year – why fix it if it’s not broken? But deeper in the field it’s been a game of musical chairs. Here’s a list of the drivers and teams:

• Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes retain their drivers. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez for Red Bull, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz at Ferrari, and Lewis Hamilton and George Russell with Mercedes.

• Alfa Romeo is also unchanged, with Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

• McLaren will have Oscar Piastri joining Lando Norris on the team.

• Nico Hulkenberg replaces Mick Schumacher at Haas, joining Kevin Magnussen.

• Fernando Alonso joins Lance Stroll at Aston Martin, replacing Sebastian Vettel who has retired.

• Pierre Gasly moves from Alpha Tauri to Alpine, taking over Alonso’s former seat. Esteban Ocon remains with the team.

• Gasly’s Alpha Tauri seat will go to Nyck De Vries, who joins Yuki Tsunoda.

• And at Williams we find Alexander Albon back for his second year, joined by Logan Sargeant, the first American driver on F1 the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015.

The big announcement that came last week will not affect 2023, 2024, or even 2025. But come 2026: New power unit regulations we may well see 22 cars on the Formula 1 roster. Michael Andretti, who has had success as a team owner and manager in both IndyCar and endurance sports car racing, has been trying to break into F1 for the last few years, to no avail. But this time he has the backing of a major manufacturer, which could be a game changer. General Motors, specifically the Cadillac division, has signed on as the power unit supplier for Andretti Global. GM has racing credentials both as an engine supplier for the IndyCar series (Chevrolet) and endurance sports car racing with the Cadillac prototypes in IMSA competition. And given that F1 has evidenced extreme interest in expanding its U.S. marketing, having an American team in the series would be a giant step in that direction. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of the FIA, sanctioning body for F1, is strongly behind Andretti’s effort as are the McLaren and Alpine teams. Unfortunately, the proposal faces strong opposition from Formula 1 management and the rest of the F1 constructors who don’t want to see dilution of the prize money. Time will tell if Andretti’s dream comes to fruition, but it’s the strongest chance he’s had so far.

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The Chili Bowl is well underway as this goes to deadline, with three of the six nights in the record books. Monday’s Cummins Qualifying Night saw Tanner Thorson finish fifth in the Race of Champions while Cannon McIntosh and Shane Golobic locked into the Saturday feature with 1-2 finishes in the A-main. Hank Davis and Spencer Bayston made the Saturday feature on Tuesday and on Wednesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying Night two-time Chili Bowl champion Rico Abreu won the A feature with Mitchel Moles second, both advancing to Saturday. Thursday and Friday results were not available at deadline.

•••

Finally, NASCAR is losing an iconic name with the Wednesday announcement that Petty GMS Racing has been re-branded and will henceforth be known as the Legacy Motor Club. It will be the first time in NASCAR’s 75-year history without the Petty name. And 2024 will be minus Kevin Harvick, who just announced his retirement after the 2023 season.

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