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SBD Global/April 10, 2014/Franchises

Gene Haas Will Go Into F1 Project Without NASCAR Partner Tony Stewart

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, who comes from open-wheel racing, will not be involved in Gene Haas' F1 project.
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will not be involved in Gene Haas’ F1 project. The co-owners of NASCAR Sprint Cup team Stewart-Haas Racing will not field a co-owned F1 team should the FIA grant Haas an F1 license for ’15. “Tony is specific to the NASCAR program,” said True Speed Communication Founder Mike Arning. “So whatever Gene may end up doing in F1 will be separate from Stewart-Haas Racing. There will be a different name and a different set of personnel to lead the F1 project.” The chances of Haas being granted the sought-after license received a major boost last weekend when F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that two teams, including Haas’ U.S. entry, have been accepted to join the series next year. Ecclestone’s comments suggest that Haas’ F1 project is on the right track, but it is tough to move forward without an official word from the FIA. Arning: “Gene Haas and his F1 ambitions are quite frankly still in a holding pattern. Bernie obviously seemed to endorse the prospect of Gene’s F1 plans, but the license comes from the FIA.”

A COSTLY ENDEAVOR: The last time the FIA admitted new teams was in ’10. Back then, a proposed U.S. team called USF1 was initially accepted but later removed as it was in no position to race. Starting and operating an F1 team needs a lot of planning and even more funding -- which is hard to come by without an official license. “I think there’s plenty of planning going on, so they are not flatfooted. But really until that license is granted, no financial commitments or any real commitments have been put forth,” Arning said. He added that if and when the FIA gives the green light, Haas will be ready to go. The FIA, which was expected to announce its decision on what teams will join F1 on Feb. 28, has delayed that decision indefinitely without giving a reason. Arning said that Haas is expecting word from the governing body at any time, but at the same time it is the FIA’s timeline and process.
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