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Senators call for federal inquiry over barring Andretti team from Formula One

Senators cite possible U.S. antitrust violation.

By Chris Benson
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (L), D-Mich., speaks as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. , looks on during a January 2023 press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Stabenow joined her state's fellow Democratic senate colleague, as well as Indiana's two Republican senators, in calling for the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to investigate F1 racing. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 5 | Sen. Debbie Stabenow (L), D-Mich., speaks as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. , looks on during a January 2023 press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Stabenow joined her state's fellow Democratic senate colleague, as well as Indiana's two Republican senators, in calling for the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to investigate F1 racing. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 21 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of seven senators on Tuesday urged the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to look into accusations that Andretti Global may have been excluded from the Formula One Championship series in a possible American antitrust violation.

In a letter to Jonathan Kanter, the Justice Department's assistant attorney general for the the Antitrust Division, and FTC Chair Lina Khan, the senators called for them to investigate excluding Andretti Formula Racing, known as Team Andretti-Cadillac, from entering Europe's Formula One Championship series.

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"We write because we are concerned that Formula One is acting at the behest of its independent teams and other 'key stakeholders,' including foreign automakers, to exclude the team formed by Andretti Formula Racing, LLC's partnership with General Motors ("Team Andretti-Cadillac") from entering the Formula One Championship series," read a letter released by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate's Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.

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Joining Klobuchar were the subcommittee's ranking member, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Todd Young, R-Ind., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Mike Braun, R-Ind.

The two Democratic senators from Michigan notably represent the home state of General Motors while their two Indiana Republican colleagues represent Andretti's headquarters.

"It is possible that such a refusal to deal -- especially if orchestrated through a group boycott -- could violate U.S. antitrust laws," their joint letter reads.

A spokesperson for both the Justice Department and FTC confirmed Tuesday they received the letter, but declined to comment further, according to NBC News.

Young, Indiana's Republican senator, said on X that his home state's Andretti team "deserves a fair shot to compete in F1."

Team Andretti-Cadillac, an Indiana-based racing team backed by General Motors trying to break into a European-dominated sports competition, "was refused entry into Formula One by its commercial arm, which had the task to negotiate terms of entry after approval by the FIA," according to a joint news release, despite Andretti having met all requirements to join F1 in rules set forth by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

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Formula One rejected Andretti's January bid to joint grid in the next two years, but left open the possibility of a 2028 entry, questioning if Andretti would "add value" to the competition's prestige.

"Formula 1 profits off of American viewership, fans, & venues," Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., posted on X Tuesday afternoon.

Yet, F1, "won't let an American team, driving an American car, compete at their events," he added.

The senators contend that F1's actions raise "substantial concerns" that Formula One's 10 current teams and sponsors "may have colluded to exclude Andretti-Cadillac to insulate themselves from competition on the track and in the European car market."

"It looks a lot like European companies are trying to illegally block American competition on the racetrack and in the car market," Klobuchar posted on social media.

"That is why we are calling for an investigation," she said.

"Given these facts," the senators wrote, "we have serious concerns that the rejection of Team Andretti-Cadillac was based on a desire to exclude a rival from the racetrack, marketing opportunities, and prestige that competing in F1 can lend to a car manufacturer competing to sell cars across the globe."

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