General Motors joining forces with Andretti under the Cadillac brand is “a statement” that strengthens its Formula 1 aspirations, according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
Andretti Cadillac announced its intention to submit an Expression of Interest to join the F1 grid last week, news that was welcomed by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. After F1 itself issued a neutral statement, Michael Andretti then hit out at the “greed” of the existing teams but Wolff says the GM involvement is a strong move.
“Cadillac and GM, that’s a statement,” Wolff said. “Certainly them joining forces with Andretti is definitely a positive, gives it another angle that may or may not be beneficial for Formula 1, but nobody would ever question GM or Cadillac’s pedigree in motorsport and obviously as a global auto company.”
Wolff was speaking alongside James Vowles ahead of the latter’s move to become Williams team principal, and — in comments echoed by Wolff — Vowles also sees positives in the two brands but explains why more information is required about the entry bid.
“We are always open to the sport growing,” Vowles said. “The truth behind it is financially the sport is becoming more and more successful. Whoever joins in that environment, needs to bring with it the growth that is required for everyone else to be in a better position, or at least a neutral position. I think that’s been the statement from the outset, from the beginning.
“There is a lot of lovely things about Andretti and about Cadillac, it just needs to have good understanding of how it will grow the sport, in what way, and what the growth will be.”
The pair also dismissed any suggestion that they will now both hold the same view on political topics within F1 given Vowles’ history at Mercedes, with Wolff saying Williams has always been independent despite a technical partnership.
“We are all a little bit from the same generation — not age-wise because James is younger but as people who have come up into leadership positions within Formula 1,” Wolff added. “And that is Fred (Vasseur), Laurent Rossi, Andreas Seidl — there’s all of us. But there’s one thing in common and that’s that we are in these positions to defend our standpoint and our teams, to do everything that’s in our power to prosper.
“If I were able to get involved with James and ask him to (side with) Mercedes, he would tell me to get lost. In that way there was always the speculation that Williams, because of the Mercedes engine, was a subordinate but none of that was true. We never interfered with any kind of driver situation, we always understood the authority of the team management in their own way, and that’s why James is going to do what’s good for the team — he’s going to do what’s going to be good for James in order to bring that forward.
“He’s going to be judged on the team’s success, and if Mercedes is helpful then he will talk about it and if he feels he needs to have a different position then he will stand for that position. So I have zero doubt that this is of benefit for Formula 1 overall because he’s not driven by ego — he’s rational, he’s logical, he understands the sport inside-out and that is a good contribution to what we do.”