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Haas Formula gameplan taking shape | News | Motorsport.com

CONCORD, N.C. – Gene Haas could decide on a technical partnership for his Formula One team as early as this week.

As for a Formula Haas debut, all indications are that the newest F1 licensee is leaning toward a 2015 start which could inevitably determine the entrant’s supplier based on availability.

Haas met with his team principals over the weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway to hash out their plans.

“We’re still finalizing the numbers, so I don’t want to say anything wrong,” Haas told Motorsport.com. “We should know something in the next week or so what year we’re going to go with and everything else. We really only got a license a month ago, so there’s been a lot of going back and forth.

“There’s just a lot of things to cover. Obviously, we want to partner with a partner that can help us the most because we don’t have much time – and that’s a little bit of it, too. One partner might be saying 2016. One partner might be saying 2015. My thing is, no matter what year it is, it’s going to be a tough year that first year, so I’d like to get it over with myself.”

With the current race season nearly reaching the halfway point, Haas is concerned that “schedules have to be met” for both Ferrari and Mercedes that could affect which manufacturer would best be able to accommodate an additional team.

“Whether they could put all the pieces together and have it ready for us next year, they have to have time to plan ahead, too,” Haas said. “That’s probably what the biggest problem is, ‘Can we get all the parts and pieces we need in time for next year?’ Otherwise, I’d rather go next year myself.

“That’s really what it comes down to. They might come back and say they can’t do it, because we can’t meet the schedule of delivering all that stuff because of the logistics of planning ahead. They would probably like a whole year, because six months is really cutting it short. Anything less than that probably isn’t possible.”

With a seven-to-10-year initial commitment, Formula Haas is considering partners for the long run. So it’s understandable that the team will not take the decision lightly to align with their chosen constructor. But the timing of the decision is equally important. Ferrari could partner with Haas Formula immediately while Mercedes transitions from four teams to three with McLaren’s return to Honda.

“Keep in mind that, right now, Renault has four customers, Mercedes has four customers, Ferrari has three customers,” Haas said. “According to the technology-sharing rules, they have to share technology with up to four customers, so basically Renault and Mercedes are out of the picture.

“Mercedes will have an opening next year when McLaren goes to Honda, but right now Ferrari is at three (teams) so it’s really the only one that has, theoretically, a position available currently, and Mercedes will potentially have one next year.

“There’s not a lot of room for any errors. Next year with Honda, it’s going to be the same situation. You’re going to have three manufacturers. Two will be at four and one will be at three and then you have Honda. That will give you 12 teams, so it’s very tight. That will probably be more of a factor of who you partner up with – just the limitations of what’s available.”

When Haas entered NASCAR in 2002, he relied on Hendrick Motorsports as a supplier for his single-car Sprint Cup team. The first two seasons, the drivers failed to post a top 10, let alone a podium finish. In 2004, performance picked up as Haas CNC Racing expanded with a Busch Series team. Four years later, Haas added a second Cup team.

While Haas failed to post a victory over the first seven seasons, things changed once he aligned with NASCAR champion Tony Stewart in 2009. Together, Stewart-Haas Racing won 13 races and a Cup title in the first three years.

After 12 seasons, four full-time drivers, 22 wins and a championship, Haas understands the importance of getting off to a fast start with the right technical partner.

“We’re kind of looking almost at a very similar package to what we have here in NASCAR where we basically rely on Hendrick for the componentry and engines and everything, and that works extremely well,” Haas said. “I’m not in this to prove that we can build the best engine or whatever. We’re here to race cars and that’s really our primary purpose.

“What we’re going to focus on the first few years is finishing races, because that’s what hurts teams the most--most of them just don’t finish the race. Having the highest-performance engine or aero package doesn’t do you any good if you can’t finish the race. So our goal is really to get the logistics down, getting to the races, getting the right equipment there, having the right spares, being able to qualify the cars properly… that’s going to be really what our goal is."

While the choice of a technical partner is still in the works, the applications are pouring from potential drivers—roughly 25 of them at this point. Haas said they’ve already had 200 to 300 aspiring employees looking to join Formula Haas, but prior to obtaining a F1 license, perusing the submissions was impractical.

“We have a stack of them,” Haas said. “We’re trying to look at every single one of them, because we know that, out of that stack, there’s the right combination of people that will make it all work.

“Like I’ve said before, we’d really like to have a current F1 driver that has driven this year’s car, because I think that’s just so critical to understanding the balance and everything else that we would need to know about. Even finding a F1 driver from a few years ago really might not help that much, because the chassis today is so much different from last year.

“Keep in mind you can’t start up one of these deals in a couple of months. Some of these teams have three, four hundred people. We have to gradually work ourselves into this. We have to bite off the minimum amount we can, we have to get partners to help us with the rest of it and then focus on getting to the races. That’s what the challenge is.”

Despite reports to the contrary, Haas returned on Saturday from overseas where he was opening Haas Automation factory outlets in the Baltic States, not shopping for existing F1 teams. Haas insisted his trip “was planned months ago.

“We had no idea that we were in negotiations with Lotus or anybody else for that matter,” Haas said with a laugh.
 

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R.I.P Justin Wilson
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Any driver rumors yet? I know he wants a current F1 guy, but it would be cool to see a young American Indycar driver like Newgarden in a second car after the team is established.
 

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Any driver rumors yet? I know he wants a current F1 guy, but it would be cool to see a young American Indycar driver like Newgarden in a second car after the team is established.
He has said he wants an experienced F1 driver in one car at least to start out and an American driver in the second car. As of now, the only American drivers in the F1 development series with a legitimate shot at being granted a super-license are Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi. Currently Rossi is a reserve / test driver for Caterham so I don't know what his contract situation is there, or if he would be able to move to Haas if offered a ride.
 
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R.I.P Justin Wilson
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He has said he wants an experienced F1 driver in one car at least to start out and an American driver in the second car. As of now, the only American drivers in the F1 development series with a legitimate shot at being granted a super-license are Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi. Currently Rossi is a reserve / test driver for Caterham so I don't know what his contract situation is there, or if he would be able to move to Haas if offered a ride.
I like Conor Daly so he'd be cool.
 

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Quite honestly, I hope Haas holds off on bringing in an American driver until his team can score points. Rookie team with a rookie driver is not the way to go, especially with the spotlight on both because of the "Americans can't do F1" mentality held by quite a few in Formula 1. My guess is that Haas would target guys like Charles Pic, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde, etc. -- guys who know the cars, can bring them home in one piece, give valuable feedback and just be happy to be in F1. Let's face it, a Nico Hulkenberg or Jenson Button isn't going to be sending in a resume to this team in its first year.
 

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Quite honestly, I hope Haas holds off on bringing in an American driver until his team can score points. Rookie team with a rookie driver is not the way to go, especially with the spotlight on both because of the "Americans can't do F1" mentality held by quite a few in Formula 1.
I agree, but from a PR standpoint, not having an American driver on the team would not look good. Assuming that the team actually makes it to the grid next year, I think they'll have an American rookie.

My guess is that Haas would target guys like Charles Pic, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde, etc. -- guys who know the cars, can bring them home in one piece, give valuable feedback and just be happy to be in F1.
Maybe add guys like Heikki Kovailain, Vitaly Petrov, and Rubens Barrichello to that list. I don't know if Pic, Chilton, and van der Garde have enough experience to provide any useful feedback-assuming that they do get an American driver having one of those 3 would mean they essentially would have 2 rookies on the team. Personally, I've never seen anything from Pic, Chilton, and van der Garde to be impressed with. Kovailain, Petrov, and Barrichello all have recent experience with F1 and could provide some more useful feedback to the team.
 

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I agree, but from a PR standpoint, not having an American driver on the team would not look good. Assuming that the team actually makes it to the grid next year, I think they'll have an American rookie.

Maybe add guys like Heikki Kovailain, Vitaly Petrov, and Rubens Barrichello to that list. I don't know if Pic, Chilton, and van der Garde have enough experience to provide any useful feedback-assuming that they do get an American driver having one of those 3 would mean they essentially would have 2 rookies on the team. Personally, I've never seen anything from Pic, Chilton, and van der Garde to be impressed with. Kovailain, Petrov, and Barrichello all have recent experience with F1 and could provide some more useful feedback to the team.
Barrichello is way past his F1 days. He even struggled in IndyCar. He may be retired or semi-retired now. Petrov has no experience with these cars. Kovalinen might work, but he sucks lol. The reason I picked the guys I did is because they're either driving this year's cars or are test/reserve drivers for teams right now.

I don't see any PR brushback from Haas not using an American driver in its first year. There are only two drivers right now even close to running in F1. One is under contract with Caterham and is the one ready right now. But do you really want to kill his chances so early? Haas' team will be very, very lucky to even score one point in its first season. They may not score points for several years. Why throw away the U.S.'s best chance at an F1 talent? Look at Scott Speed. He was there in Toro Rosso's first season. He was a very, very capable driver. But because he was with a team that couldn't score points (and this was a 20-year-old team), he went to shit and was gone. I think you have to start with experienced guys first, then move in your American talent after one or two seasons. There's not much to pick from for Americans right now -- even if you pull from IndyCar. Don't waste them before they can shine.
 

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I understand what both of you are saying, but dang I want an American team with an American driver. I only semi watch F1 now and an American team with an American driver would definitely pull me in.
 

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He might be past his F1 days as well but Nick Heidfeld was a very solid driver in his days. I don't know if he can make it in F1 but I like Bruno Senna too. Quite a few former F1 drivers have moved on and seem happy in sports car racing though. It'd be tough to convince any of them to leave the likes of the World Endurance Championship to go to a startup F1 team.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I understand what both of you are saying, but dang I want an American team with an American driver. I only semi watch F1 now and an American team with an American driver would definitely pull me in.
Agreed. That'd be ideal. Maybe if Rossi or Daly come on board the first year and Haas is extremely patient and they don't jump ship, it can all work out.


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What's Robert Kubica up to these days? Is he still rally racing? He was a good driver a while back until his horrible rally crash.


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What's Robert Kubica up to these days? Is he still rally racing? He was a good driver a while back until his horrible rally crash.



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He's in the WRC.

Its unlikely that he comes back to F1 though. The injuries he suffered in the rally crash were quite serious.
 
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