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Marco Andretti Defends His Father & Criticises McLaren

Marco Andretti Defends His Father & Criticises McLaren

The famous Andretti family has long been involved in motor racing; Mario, Michael and now Marco have all enjoyed and are enjoying careers with racing cars (there are more, but these three are the most well-known). However, the family have all tended to stay in American series’ aside from grandfather Mario. The elder driver raced in Formula One with success, winning the title in 1978 and taking twelve victories in his career. Son Michael attempted Formula One in 1993, but it was a disaster from the start and Michael didn’t see the year out.

Michael didn’t do so well behind the wheel of an F1 car and the American driver could only manage a third place at Monza before leaving the McLaren team with mutual agreement; McLaren were happy to put Mika Hakkinen in his place. It was always presumed that Andretti didn’t do so well in Formula One because of the lack of preparation. Racing in the American IndyCar series, Andretti had become used to simpler machinery, but Formula One in the early-ninties was quite complex, with traction control and active suspension helping to control the cars. This, combined with the fact that Andretti insisted on commuting from America to races and tests meant that he wasn’t given the best of opportunities to prove his worth.

So why is this relevant to today? Because Michael’s son Marco, who is currently racing in IRL IndyCar series, has decided to defend his fathers performance and criticise McLaren to boot. However, before putting his thoughts across to the media in Indiana (Marco is competing in Sunday’s Indy 500), the 21-year-old was sure to point out that he would jump at the chance to race in Formula One, having already tested for Honda on two occasions.

In his attempts to clear his fathers name, Marco stated that McLaren sabotaged the second car in an effort to make Michael Andretti look bad. It is perhaps fair that team mate Ayrton Senna would receive updated parts sooner, the Brazilian’s authority already known from his previous title-winning campaigns. But Marco has said that it went beyond just a difference in development pace.

If you ask me, it was sabotage.

They would make the car do weird things in the corner electronically, stuff out of his control.

And I think my dad’s biggest supporter over there was Ayrton Senna. Because he was one of the few who knew what was really happening in the team, and I think he believed in my father. It was Monza that he really said, ‘Give him my car. Give him exactly what I had.’ Marco Andretti.

When questioned about his son’s comments, Michael didn’t deny his version of events, but also refused to go into any detail about his 1993 season.

Let’s just say it was not a pleasant experience. It was a time where I think I was sort of caught in a political battle of auto racing, and because of that wasn’t a very good experience. Michael Andretti.

It does seem strange though, doesn’t it, that Marco would speak out against a possible future employer and one that he would do very well to want right now? And what is Marco speaking out against? Safety, car design, driver aids…? No, he’s speaking about the past. History. Fifteen-year-old history. That just seems strange to me. And very Scott Speed, if I might add. While I love Americans very much (most of you reading this are from the other side of the pond), Scott, and now Marco are giving Formula One fans in Europe-and-beyond an interesting view of American racers and their attitudes.

I don’t have any other mentality other than to go over there [Europe, F1] and win. Because I think it’s a bigger story if I go over there and fail, really. It really is. Because that’s what people are waiting for, to be honest, over there. Marco Andretti.

Really, Marco? Really…? I know us Brits can seem a bit pessimistic at times, but please understand it is mostly to do with our weather. I promise you, the world spins on its axis and revolves around the sun. Nothing else. I suggest that if you want to succeed in IndyCar and F1, you might want to improve your outlook a little and become a bit more positive. Digging up the past, whether you be right or wrong, only distracts from the main cause – the present.

Photo by Chris Denbow and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Oliver White

10 comments

  • Well, I have to say that I find Marco’s version of events highly speculative, to say the least. And, of course, Michael would be suggestively non-committal – his failure to make the grade in F1 is one hell of a blot on his outstanding career. I think the truth of the matter is what Oliver states has always been assumed early on in the article – lack of preparation, failure to base himself in Europe, difficulty adapting to the complexity of the engineering of early 90s F1 cars, and so on. If you genuinely doubt that, see if you can get hold of a copy of the excellent BBC TV series from 1993 ‘The Team: A Season With McLaren’ (which I still hold onto on ageing VHS!) – the behind the scenes footage is extremely illuminating, and tells its own story of the Andretti/McLaren relationship (in particular the one specific episode that focuses exclusively on Andretti’s Canadian GP weekend). Andretti was a great, combative racing driver but he was, and remains, I suspect a hometown American (unlike his worldly-wise and rather more cosmopolitan father Mario), who was uncomfortable in the European racing system. His lack of physical preparation and mental and emotional committment to F1 was, I still believe, at the root of his lack of success. It’s a great shame, because he had the latent ability to have been a seriously successful GP driver. On the other hand, I always thought that as long as he was happy with his choices, that was that. It appears that, all these years later, a little bitterness and, perhaps, regret, remains. I think that is what is behind these latest remarks.

  • They would make the car do weird things in the corner electronically, stuff out of his control.

    For pity’s sake, why? For what possible reason would anyone do something so dangerous, so counter-productive, so…stupid.

    Another moronic conspiracy theory.

  • LoL ! A McLaren story again.

    Marco defends his father wouldn’t you defend yours? If Michael told a few things to his son there might be some good reasons for it, after all he was in the team and none of us was there…. The world is not black or white you know…

  • Heh, yeah, I would defend my father, only I would do it better. My real gripe with Marco here is the way he comes across. The nature of this story reminded me of how Scott Speed used to grumble. I’m not saying he is right or wrong (as I said in the post), just that I feel he should leave the past in the past and concentrate on the future. And to perhaps not burn bridges before they’re built.

  • I’d love an American in F1, but we don’t do much to raise our stock in the eyes of the world, do we? Our sense of entitlement is disheartening.

    That said, the high pitched whine that comes out of Nazareth, Pennsylvania is world renown.

  • @C.D.: I’d love an American in F1 as well. In fact, I’d love a few! I’m certain it isn’t all American racers that come across as whiney children, and I hate to think what American’s think of ‘European’ racers. Moany old Coulthard, emotionless Raikkonen… 🙂

  • Sounds like Marco is brainwashed and suffers from post tramatic stress.

    He is only parrotting what his Dad’s point of view is.

    Maybe MArco’s Dad could take some parenting lessons from Bobby Rahal; a real class act!

    Marco seems to have a conflicted life and really it’s not his fault.

    Formula 1 is for grown ups and maybe MArco was just rushed a couple of years too soon, at any cost.

    Should 18 year olds really be racing in this transitional sport? Only children of race car drivers could go from high school- racecar driving. Many people get hurt while they are rushing through, and also trying to defend a legacy….1970-80 was a different time and place

    Maybe MArco needs some time abroad!

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