Gene Haas and business partner Tony Stewart have made the surprising decision to shut down the decorated Stewart-Haas team after 15 years in the NASCAR Cup Series. The owners cited the financial burden among the reasons for their withdrawal, offering a hint towards Andretti's best route onto the F1 grid.

The Stewart-Haas team have been mainstays on the Cup Series circuit but after going winless for nearly two years and losing two major sponsors in Busch Beer and Smithfield, the team have opted to shut down their NASCAR operation at the end of the year.

In a joint statement, they said: "We have made the difficult decision to close Stewart-Haas Racing at the conclusion of the 2024 season. It is a decision that did not come easily, nor was it made quickly.

"Racing is a labour-intensive, humbling sport. It requires unwavering commitment and vast resources, with a 365-day mindset to be better than everyone else. It's part of what makes success so rewarding."

While Haas' NASCAR and F1 operations are separate entities, Gene's decision to stop funding one of his motorsport operations could be a telltale sign that he could be willing to entertain offers for the North Carolina-based outfit. His lack of investment in the team was even one of the biggest frustrations for former team principal Guenther Steiner.

If Haas is willing to sell up, this would be the perfect opportunity for Andretti to make their way onto the F1 grid. The legendary American motorsport group have been in pursuit of a way into the sport for over 12 months, but the existing teams are reluctant to support their bid due to the perceived financial loss that they would incur.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has previously been extremely supportive of Andretti's cause, but in the wake of the Monaco Grand Prix, he suggested: "I would advise them to go and buy another team, not to come as the 11th team.

"I feel that some teams need to be refreshed. What is better? To have 11 teams as a number or 10 and they are strong? I still believe we should have more teams. But not any teams. The right teams." Ben Sulayem then went on to name Haas and Alpine as two of the teams Andretti could look to buy out.

2024-05-29T14:23:09Z dg43tfdfdgfd