Gene Haas Announces F1 Team
Haas’ new F1 operation will be called Haas Formula and will be based around the existing facilities of Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, NC, as well as satellite operations based in Europe.
The team hopes to begin competition in 2015.
The newly formed F1 team would be the first such American-owned operation since the Haas-Lola Team founded by Carl Haas (no relation) and Teddy Mayer campaigned a limited number of races in 1985 and 1986.
Haas along with team principal and former Red Bull technical director Guenther Steiner hope to start negotiations with a technical partner and engine builder in the next four weeks. However, they won’t know until they begin those discussions if they can get everything together in time to compete in 2015.
“The real work starts now,” said Steiner, who previously worked with Red Bull’s NASCAR teams. “We need to get the people. We need to define if we start in '15 or '16, and we need to pick our partner. Out of that will come the main staff, not only technical people, logistical people, all the people come from where we go. And that's why it takes a little bit of time to get there.”
Haas and Steiner said the team has until June to notify the FIA if they plan to compete in 2015 – if they can put a team together in time – or wait until 2016.
“I think 2015 is too close, and I think 2016 is too far, so that's kind of where I see it,” said Haas. “I think the challenge here basically in my mind is getting to the racetrack with a car that runs. We're not here to reinvent the wheel. It would be insurmountable to say that we're going to build a chassis by ourselves and engineer it, figure out how to do it and hire all the people in nine months.
“Obviously we're going to have to compromise on what we do as far as the construction of the car, and we're going to have to try to acquire whatever we can, but our main purpose is going to be arriving at the track and racing a car. No matter how we do that, that's our main focus here.”
Gene Haas is the co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing team along with three-time Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart and the founder and president of Haas Automation, a leading computer numerical control (CNC) machine tool manufacturer.
Haas hopes his involvement in a worldwide motorsport endeavor like Formula 1 will help further his business opportunities overseas and increase the customer base for Haas Automation.
“The ultimate goal is to take the image of Haas Automation and turn it into a brand that is desired, high quality, and known throughout the world. Ultimate goal would be to double our sales for Haas Automation,” said Haas. “I think that with the same techniques that we've achieved in NASCAR as far as selling machine tools, we have a very good market penetration in the United States and the associating the Haas brand with Formula 1, I think, will launch us into a premium brand.”
In addition to his machine tool business, Haas is also the owner of Windshear, 180-mph rolling wind-tunnel based in Concord, N.C. – one of the few of its type in North American – that can be utilized by both his NASCAR and F1 operations.
During NASCAR’s annual media tour in January, Haas announced his intentions to start a new Formula 1 team and apply for an F1 license after FIA issued a “call for expression of interest” in November for prospective new Formula 1 entrants
The last American team to be granted entry into F1 was USF1, which was headed by former Haas CNC Racing technical director Ken Anderson and former F1 team manager Peter Windsor, but the team fizzled after being plagued with financial problems.
“I wouldn't be doing it if I thought I was going to fail,” said Haas. “US F1 was a start up that had no resources whatsoever. It didn't have a racing team. They took on a huge challenge. I admire the fact that they took that challenge, but on the other hand, I'm partners with Tony Stewart in a very successful NASCAR racing team. I have a machine tool company that has the capability of building the most sophisticated machines in the world. We built all the machines that we need to even make our parts. I have a wind tunnel at my disposal. So I have a lot of the resources and basic infrastructure that I think is necessary in order to succeed at this.
“Maybe where they failed, I can figure out how not to fail. But I firmly believe that we have the right tools to go forward on this and be successful at it.”
Haas’ made his first foray into Motorsports as an associate sponsor for Hendrick Motorsports before starting up his own fledgling single-car Sprint Cup Series team in 2003.
In 2008, former Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart purchased an ownership stake in Haas’ team, now re-named Stewart-Haas Racing, and helped lead the team to a Sprint Cup title in 2011.
Haas’ ultimate goal in fielding an F1 team would be to become a constructor, building their own chassis and engines from scratch.
“I don't think our car is going to be the Haas Formula car entirely. But as time goes on, we'll learn. We'll figure it out,” said Haas. “The car will eventually evolve into our own car, and quite frankly, I think we can beat the Europeans at their own game.”
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