The F1 paddock at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, is filled with speculation that Michael Andretti has definitely bought or is working on a deal to obtain a major stake in the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team.
Andretti has declined interview requests from Autoweek.
Meanwhile, multiple team principals have already commented on the reports, including Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, whose Haas outfit could soon be joined by a second American-led team on the Formula 1 grid.
“I’ve spoken with Michael a couple of times, but not lately to be honest,” Steiner said on Thursday. “I don’t know what he’s trying to do. In American racing, everyone knows everyone, so there may have been some discussions, but they were probably not as specific as you think.”
Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso welcomed the Andretti rumors, including suggestions American Colton Herta will be F1’s next rookie. Herta won an IndyCar race in 2019 at the age of 18. That race, coincidentally, was at the Circuit of the Americas—site of this weekend’s F1 race. “If I’m not mistaken, he’s the youngest race winner in Indycar history,” said the two-time champion. If he is with Andretti in Formula 1, then together they will do well, there is no doubt about that.”
However, Alfa Romeo team manager Beat Zehnder, who has been with Swiss-based Sauber for decades, is pumping the brakes on the buyout news.
“If there are such conversations, they are taking place on a completely different level. We don’t notice anything,” Zehneder told Auto Motor und Sport. “The owner has so far not informed us that anything is going to change.”
Valtteri Bottas, who will drive for the Alfa Romeo team in 2022, claims he is also in the dark on any Andretti buyout.
“Honestly, I don’t know a lot of the detail and whether there is a real chance it will happen or not,” Bottas said. “But I’m sure the people making the decisions will know what’s best for the team in the long run.”
Finally, former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone warned Andretti, a former F1 driver whose company runs several U.S.-based racing teams, to be wary of buying the sport’s only Swiss team.
“I doubt there will be a deal with Andretti,” he told European media outlet Blick. “Switzerland is not exactly the ideal Formula 1 location. British people don’t really want to go there and if they do they leave pretty quickly.”