NASCAR’s Haas plans new F1 team, decision nears (10th Update)

UPDATE #10 Autosprint correspondent Maurizio Voltini claims the Haas team will be powered by customer Ferrari engines in 2015.

04/10/14 Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that official confirmation will be given on Friday that a new team owned by American businessman Gene Haas will be allowed to join the race series next year.

Last week Mr. Ecclestone told Britain’s Independent newspaper that he thought the team would be accepted but Mr. Haas is still waiting for formal confirmation from F1’s governing body the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

“We haven’t been notified by the FIA, but Bernie is kind of half [of] Formula One, so I’m sure what he says goes," said Mr. Haas at the Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. He won’t have to wait much longer.

“Haas has been accepted," Mr. Ecclestone told Forbes. “The FIA has accepted him for sure. It is done. They are going to put that out tomorrow." It is unclear whether the confirmation will be publicly available or whether it will just be communicated to Mr. Haas but, either way, it will put his mind to rest.

In December the FIA opened a tender for a 12th F1 team and Mr. Haas filed an application. The following month Mr. Ecclestone told Racer magazine that Mr. Haas has “been talking about it for three years," and although a decision about the new team was due to be made on 28 February this was delayed until an unknown date. It has kept Mr. Haas on the edge of his seat.

“We needed to know about two months ago," Mr. Haas told the Associated Press on Sunday. “If Mr. Ecclestone says that we’re accepted and the FIA issues us some kind of notice in the next few weeks, then we can entertain 2015. But if we lose another month, I don’t think we could do it."

04/03/14

Gene Haas

This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Gene Haas looks set to take his place on the pitwall as F1's newest team owner in 2015.

Having earlier played down the Nascar team co-owner's chances of securing the twelfth team entry, Bernie Ecclestone said this week: "I think Haas will be accepted.

"They have got the money but it's a question of whether they are going to spend it," the Independent newspaper quotes him as having told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

It is believed the FIA recently delayed a decision over Haas' 2015 application pending F1s chief executive Ecclestone's 'ok'.

Money seems to have been the 83-year-old Briton's main concern.

"A billion would last a new team owner four years," Ecclestone said. "I've spoken to Haas but I don't know what they are going to do. It's America, so I don't know."

He also didn't rule out the possibility more teams could soon be following Haas into F1.

"Every year we or the FIA have approaches from new teams," he said.

03/24/14 The waiting game might be ending soon for potential Formula 1 team owner Gene Haas.

Haas, who says he has satisfied all requests from the FIA, could have an answer this week as to whether he will receive an F1 license or not.

"There's paperwork that goes back and forth," Haas told RACER.com on Sunday. "They asked for it and we submitted it. I would hope they make a decision in the next week or so but it's a big business and they have their agendas.

"It's not like any individual makes a decision there. They get together in a group and they look at the package and they make their decision, but ultimately I think it has to go to Mr. Ecclestone [Bernie, president and CEO of Formula One Management]."

One of those "agendas" is a minimum of a two-year commitment to F1. Haas, however, would prefer to start with a clean slate rather than buy an existing team.

"To me, that method goes against having an American team," Haas said. "When I talked to Mr. Ecclestone back in November, he kind of saw my point of view but who knows what the latest thoughts by the FIA are?

"When you look back through history, when the number of teams threatens to drop below 10, they seem very interested in adding teams. When they get up to 11 or 12, they become less interested in adding teams. Right now they have 11, so they're right in that middle territory between whether they should add a team or whether they should wait."

02/28/14 (GMM) A decision about whether a twelfth or even thirteenth team will make its debut in 2015 has been postponed.

With separate applications led by Nascar team co-owner Gene Haas, former HRT chief Colin Kolles and Serbian Zoran Stefanovich believed to have been lodged with the FIA, F1's governing body was scheduled to make an official announcement on Friday.

Representatives of the three projects met with the FIA early this week, where their respective financial and technical plans were discussed.

But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said on Friday that the announcement has been delayed.

Correspondent Michael Schmidt said the delay is because F1's commercial rights holders, headed by chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, are yet to fully analyze the prospective new teams' projects.

And Formula One Management "has a right of veto", Schmidt said.

"Only when Bernie Ecclestone gives his approval will the applications be accepted," he added.

02/27/14 The FIA is due to make a decision on Friday over whether it will grant a 2015 F1 entry to Gene Haas or the Romanian project fronted by Colin Kolles.

The FIA announced a "call for expression of interest" on December 12, and noted that a decision would be made on February 28 – although it remains to be seen whether that schedule still holds, or if so when the result will be communicated to the world at large.

Haas is tied to Ferrari, and will be able to take advantage of the fact that the FIA is relaxing the rules on sharing technology between teams next season. In effect it means that the NASCAR team co-owner can buy almost everything he needs from Maranello. However, he has to own the IP of his chassis and bodywork.

As revealed here some time ago, the Romanian project is believed to involve state funded backing and is in theory closer to being realized than its American rival. Lotus LMP1/LMP2 constructor Kolles, who ran HRT from his base near Munich, can provide existing race team and manufacturing facilities.

The two candidates paid a $130,000 fee and went through a vetting process which culminated in meetings with key FIA figures on Tuesday of this week. It’s believed that Jean Todt, who incidentally celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, was not directly involved with the meetings.

The original FIA announcement gives some idea of what was discussed: "All applicants will be expected to undergo thorough due diligence. By way of indication only, the applicable selection criteria will include: (a) the technical ability and resources of the team; (b) the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level; (c) the team’s experience and human resources; (d) the FIA’s assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the Championship as a whole."

The FIA also noted that if no suitable candidate was found no entry would be awarded. Adam Cooper

02/05/14 (GMM) Despite Bernie Ecclestone's recent warning, Gene Haas is pushing ahead with his plans to enter F1 in 2015.

After Haas, a Nascar team co-owner, responded to the FIA's invitation to fill the vacant team slot, Ecclestone said publicly he doubts the Californian is prepared to spend what it takes to compete in F1.

"He doesn't think we will get the license," Haas responded, "so my chances probably aren't that great of a shot."

Nevertheless, Italy's specialist Autosprint reports that Haas is pushing ahead.

Correspondent Alberto Antonini said Haas is preparing to meet the FIA's next application deadline of February 10, including demonstrating its ability and willingness to compete with an adequate budget.

Autosprint also said Haas, whose project involves the former F1 personality Gunther Steiner, is pushing ahead with plans to field a Dallara chassis in 2015, mated to Ferrari's V6 and energy-recovery 'power unit'.

"We look forward to future developments," Antonini added.

01/20/14 Gene Haas is known as “a NASCAR team boss", but that is only part of the story and one needs to look at his history to understand why he is now looking to running a team in Formula 1. The primary motivation is not necessarily sporting. Haas is not exactly struggling when it comes to money. The 61-year-old started a machine shop business in California in 1978 but soon realized that the equipment he was using was not very good and started designing his own CNC machines. Today that business turns over $1 billion a year and is expanding globally, particularly in Asia, where F1 is strong. Haas Automation has, therefore, a good business case for being involved in the sport. This is important in an age when F1 is wildly expensive. Being as F1 team is not enough.

When you look closely at the details of the plan that we have now, you might conclude that this has been his ambition for a while. Haas was lurking in the background when the stillborn USF1 team was on the cards. He supplied the team with equipment and knew team boss Ken Anderson well. If you dig around a bit you discover that the Haas Racing Developments company was not established last week but rather back in March 2010, just as USF1 was falling to pieces. The conclusion is that Haas was probably considering jumping in and taking over the USF1 operation before it became clear that there was nothing to take over.

The company has been dormant these last years, while Haas has enjoyed sporting success in NASCAR, in league with Tony Stewart. They won the Sprint Cup title in 2011 and today run one of the strongest teams in the sport with the 2014 line-up featuring Stewart (back from a broken leg in 2013 and hopefully still competitive), Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick. Some don’t think Danica has what it takes but the other three certainly do and Danica is a money-making machine. People do not criticize Rick Hendrick was keeping Dale Earnhardt Jr because he is popular, why then do they attack Stewart Haas Racing for having Danica onboard?

A little digging around also reveals that there is a lot of digging going on at the team’s workshops in Concord, North Carolina, a major construction project that will double the size of the factory to 24,000 sq m. If the team is running just four cars in the Sprint Cup then that is one and a half acres of workshop space per car… Room for expansion. Haas is also the owner of an F1-scale wind tunnel just around the corner from the workshops (Yes, really!). The Windshear facility opened in 2008 and is a 180-mph 100 percent rolling-road wind tunnel, the first of its kind in North America, and only the third rolling road wind tunnel of its scale in existence. Several F1 teams have been over to try it before the cost limitations began. It is a world-class facility.

People may ask why someone with all of this would do a deal to have Dallara build him a chassis. The answer is probably very simple. Speed is essential in order to get hold of one of the precious F1 entries and after that has been achieved the team can be rolled out over a period of time, allowing an organization to come together in a more sensible fashion. It is a lot cheaper than buying an existing franchise that is worth having.

The team would obviously still need a European base of some kind, as eight of the 19 races can still be done with transporters, rather than using air freight. Using Gunther Steiner is not a bad idea as he knows not only the composite markets of Charlotte but also has a grasp of what f1 is all about and why it is different to other racing championships. That is important because too many team owners fail because they do not listen to people who know what they are talking about, or listen to the wrong people.

It would be great to see a proper American F1 team in operation and if anyone can do it, it is Haas. Joe Saward

01/17/14 The Gene Haas entry supposedly has a deal to run Ferrari engines, will start life with a Dallara designed chassis and Guenther Steiner has been mentioned as Team Principal. Not a bad little line-up when you think about it.

01/16/14 GRAND PRIX 247 reported Ecclestone claims F1 authorities "are in talks with two potential new teams" for the '15 season. The FIA "recently invited new entrants to bid for the vacant spot on the grid, but until now there has been no sign of any serious interest." Ecclestone told the Wirtschaftswoche publication, "We are in talks with two new names. Neither is an automaker." Grand Prix 247

01/16/14 High level sources have confirmed that Gene Haas, who part owns the Stewart-Haas team, is working with former Red Bull and Jaguar technical director Gunther Steiner on the F1 project.

The new team, which is provisionally called Haas Racing Developments, has lodged an application with the FIA to join the grid now that a slot has been opened up.

The FIA announced in December that it was seeking new entrants for F1 that could bolster the grid from 2015 onwards. Although there is no indication yet from the FIA about whether or not the Haas plans will be successful, Steiner has confirmed that the project is being evaluated.

He told AUTOSPORT: "Haas Racing Developments has asked for a license and expressed an interest, but at the moment we have no further comment to make.

"The FIA is still in the decision-making process and there is still one more step to go before they award the license."

Stewart-Haas recently expanded its facilities in Charlotte, which could be part of the preparations for a potential F1 involvement. Haas owns factory facilities in Brussels that could become a European base for the team. He is also the owner of the full-scale Windshear wind tunnel that has been used regularly by F1 teams.

AUTOSPORT understands that if the project is given the go-ahead then the team would likely enlist Dallara to help build its initial F1 car. The other potential contenders for the new team slot are believed to be former F1 team boss Colin Kolles, and Stefan GP, which has previously applied for a place on the grid. Eurosport/Autosport

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