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DATE News (chronologically)
04/15/14
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Haas hopes F1 resources can help NASCAR team
Gene Haas (R) hopes that Guenter Steiner's (L) F1 experience rubs off on entire team
Gene Haas hopes that his venture into Formula One also helps his NASCAR team, and he’s confident it won’t be a distraction.

Haas co-owns the four-car Cup team at Stewart-Haas Racing along with driver Tony Stewart, who was given half the team in 2009 in return for Stewart’s running of the team and ability to secure sponsorship.

Stewart has said he will have no involvement in the F1 program, which will share space in a new building being constructed at the SHR shop in Kannapolis, N.C.

“It’s two totally separate programs,” Stewart said Friday. “I won’t have any involvement in it. … It doesn’t affect the Cup stuff.”

Haas, who was granted a license last week to field two Formula One cars starting next season, actually believes it might — in a good way.

“Both teams will use wind tunnels,” Haas said Monday. “Both teams use a lot of CFD computers (for simulation). Both teams will need a seven post rig, which we actually have at Stewart-Haas Racing.

“So I think there are a lot of similarities there. Probably one of the biggest things that we can take from Formula One is what we learn in aero. Formula One teams are much more into aero packages, especially when it comes down to things you'd never think about like brake ducting and radiator intakes, and how the air comes out of the back of the wing and so on and so forth. These are things the NASCAR teams are just starting to touch on now that the bodies have been very much regulated in terms of how the aero goes over them.”

The big difference, Haas said, is the Formula One car produces 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of downforce. A Cup car is about a quarter of that.

“I'm hoping knowledge from one side can transfer over to the other,” Haas said. “On the other hand, I think that building cars in NASCAR is a lot simpler than Formula One.”

The wind tunnel that Haas built in the vicinity of the NASCAR shop — a state-of-the-art rare full-scale rolling wind tunnel that had F1 teams flocking to it when it first opened several years ago — will have to undergo a makeover because Formula One limits wind-tunnel testing to primarily scale models.

“They wanted to eliminate full-scale wind tunnel testing because they didn't want people building hundred million dollar wind tunnels,” Haas said. “Now we have a wind tunnel and that is an advantage. Unfortunately, it's a full-scale wind tunnel and that's a problem. So what we'll have to do with our wind tunnel because we already have one, the investment has been made and it's a well-run operation, we'll have to change that wind tunnel over to run scale-model wind tunnels, which Formula One allows.

“(It’s) very stringent, they have a number of hours you can run. But there is an even more stringent number of hours you can run on a full scale. So what we'll do is we'll have to spend some money on the wind tunnel to modify it to run a scale model, but at the same time, we'll also have the ability to run verification of a full scale model too, which a lot of our competitors can't do.”

SHR has won three of the eight Cup races this year. Kevin Harvick said Saturday night at Darlington that he doesn’t know if anything will translate from the F1 shop to the Cup shop.

“I guess we'll have a great carbon fiber shop,” Harvick said. “That's for sure, so that'll be a good thing. But all in all, I think Gene loves racing. … Gene likes to win races, Gene likes to be at the racetrack. He loves the challenge of doing things that other people don't do, and he's fortunate to be in a position financially to experience those things, and I'm excited to see how it all unfolds.

“I guess we'll see what his plans are, and I'm excited to be watching it and see what it all (involves and) how it all takes place.”

It would be great for the team if there are some synergies. Haas expects the F1 team to use some of the same processes that the NASCAR team uses in terms of determining how long parts will last.

“We have a lot of really smart people at Stewart-Haas Racing that are constantly looking for new ways to beat our competitors,” Haas said. “I can't think of anything in Formula One that would detract from that.

“I think we're going to have a racing campus there with NASCAR teams and Formula One teams. When it all comes down to it, we're just racing.” Sporting News

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