Gene Haas Says New F1 Team Could Serve As Launching Pad For Company Sales
NASCAR team Owner Gene Haas last week was granted a license to start a U.S.-based F1 team, and yesterday said that it will "serve as a launching pad to double the sales of his Haas Automation company, which builds machine tools," according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. Haas and team Principal Guenther Steiner yesterday during a news conference announcing the team "didn't have many details to offer; they have yet to determine whether Haas Formula will attempt to race in 2015 or 2016, let alone who will drive the cars or supply the engines." Steiner said that a decision as to "when the team will field cars could come within the next four weeks." Haas said that he would "like to hire a veteran F1 driver who currently competes on the circuit and eventually pair him with a young American who could develop over time." Meanwhile, Haas "appeared to be half-joking" when he said that the cost "could be 'billions and billions' but acknowledged the high cost of F1 racing while insisting the team would stay on a budget" (USA TODAY, 4/15). Haas said, "I would like to do 2015 simply because I think the first year is going to be a difficult year no matter what happens. It is a very big challenge. Part of that learning curve is just simply getting to the track and sorting out the logistics of going race to race. The sooner we learn that, the sooner we will be done with that” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/14). The AP's Steve Reed noted Haas "essentially ruled out his current collection of NASCAR drivers as potential candidates, saying it would be 'impossible to accomplish that and survive' given the grueling schedule Sprint Cup drivers face and the challenges it takes to learn how to drive a Formula One car." Haas plans for his F1 HQs to be based in Kannapolis, N.C., in a "building adjacent to where his NASCAR team calls home" (AP, 4/14).
COMING TO AMERICA: In N.Y., Viv Bernstein notes no U.S.-based team "has competed" in F1 since '76. The last U.S. team in F1 was "owned by Carl Haas, who is no relation to Gene Haas, and Teddy Mayer and was based in Britain in the 1980s." The most "recent attempt to form a race team" in the U.S. -- Charlotte-based U.S. F1 -- "never made it to the grid before running out of money" in '10. Gene Haas said, “For whatever reasons, they failed at it. I think it just lends to the story line that Formula One is extremely expensive to do and Americans can’t do it, and I’m here to prove that we can do it with a budget, and we can be efficient at it, and we can win at it. I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought I was going to fail” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/15).