Michael Andretti Linked to Force India Buyout
There has been a lot of speculation about why Michael Andretti, owner of the Andretti Autosport IndyCar team, elected to skip the IndyCar race at the Texas Motor Speedway two weekends ago to instead attend the Canadian Grand Prix.
Andretti was photographed many times with Fernando Alonso, who drove for his IndyCar team last year as part of a special collaboration with McLaren, which some interpreted to mean he was trying to convince the two-time champion to drop Formula One for IndyCar.
But some sources believe Andretti had another reason to be there. Journalist Joe Saward pointed out that Andretti was also seen alongside J-F Thormann, the company’s president, and Alexander Rossi’s father Pieter Rossi.
“You wouldn’t need the other two to get a deal with Alonso to race an Andretti-run, McLaren-badged IndyCar, so it was obvious that they were also up to other things,” Saward wrote, before suggesting that Andretti’s real purpose in Canada was to buy the Sahara Force India Formula One team.
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Force India’s financial woes are well known: its owners Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy both owe hundreds of millions to the Indian government and face extradition charges. The team also owes an additional $20 million to Mercedes for its engine.
With Force India shareholders unable to pay the team’s debts, Liberty Media was reported to have loaned the team money to help keep it afloat (though this could be an advance on its prize money).
“Visits to Liberty Media and Force India suggested that they were there to sniff around and see if a deal could be put together to acquire the troubled team.”
This appropriately ties into Liberty Media’s desire to expand into the United States. A second US-owned team alongside Haas would help boost viewer interest as well as the involvement of Alexander Rossi, Indy 500 winner and former F1 driver, who is also linked to Andretti Autosport and is popular figure in American motorsports.
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News Source: MotorsportWeek.com