Almost 30 years before his attempts to painfully set foot in F1 with his own structure, Michael Andretti was trying just as hard to find a place in the discipline as a driver.
Strong man of the CART championship (former name of Indycar) in the United States at the beginning of the 90s – numerous victories and a title in 1991 with the Newman/Haas Racing team, Michael Andretti decided to try his luck in the across the Atlantic, to follow in the footsteps of his father Mario, 1978 world champion.
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Andretti did not land just anywhere since he joined the prestigious McLaren team, which had just lost its engine partner Honda, which decided to take a break from F1. McLaren was associated for 1993 with the engine manufacturer Ford, which saw with a very good eye the arrival of Michael Andretti alongside the superstar Ayrton Senna.
But the beginnings of the native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, would prove to be more complicated. During the opening Grand Prix in Kyalami (South Africa), he was eliminated on the fourth lap due to a collision. At the following Grand Prix, in Sao Paulo, Andretti retired from the start after an impressive accident with the Ferrari of Gerhard Berger. Well qualified (sixth) at the third round of the championship (European GP at Donington), he again retired on the first lap after a collision.
Under pressure, the American driver was still at fault in the fourth Grand Prix at Imola, when he could have claimed a top 5, or even the podium. Finally, it was not until his fifth Grand Prix, in Barcelona, to see Michael Andretti finish his first race, and score his first points (fifth).
The rest of the season was going to be difficult (8th in Monaco, 14th in Canada), before a return to form at Magny-Cours (6th), followed however by a new series of retirements (Silverstone, Hockenheim and the Hungaroring) .
Eighth at Spa, he would finally get his first podium by finishing third in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. A race which would however turn out to be his last outing in Formula 1. From the following event, in Portugal, McLaren replaced him with his third driver, the promising Finn Mika Hakkinen, who was to quickly impress and settle permanently in the discipline.
Return to the United States and first successes as team boss
As for Michael Andretti, he returned to the ranks of the CART championship in 1994, where he returned to victory in his first back-to-school race, during the opening in Australia, with Chip Ganassi Racing. After several seasons back with Newman/Haas, and numerous successes – apart from the legendary Indianapolis 500, which has always eluded him – Michael Andretti ended his career as a full-time driver in 2002, apart from a few appearances occasional.
He took the opportunity to set up his racing structure, Andretti Green Racing, then Andretti Racing and finally Andretti Autosport, which has since gleaned many successes in Indycar, but also in IMSA (American endurance), Formula E, or even the championship. Australian supercars.
But today, Michael Andretti intends to return to Formula 1 as team boss. But there are still many obstacles…