This morning Haas Automation held a press conference to discuss what is now going on since FIA has issued a license to compete in Formula One (F1). Owner Gene Haas and team principal Guenther Steiner answered questions and gave people an idea of what is to come from the new USA based F1 program.
Haas Automation is the largest CNC machine tool builder in the United States and Gene Haas has taken it to a billion dollar company. Haas has a dream to use F1 as a way of increasing worldwide knowledge of Haas Automation and double the profits of the company.
In 2003 Haas entered the NASCAR world with Haas CNC Racing and in 2009 brought driver Tony Stewart in as a co-owner to form Stewart-Haas Racing. In 2011 Stewart-Haas Racing won the driver’s championship for NASCAR. Haas wants to take what he has learned from NASCAR and move into the F1 world to increase his companies worldwide branding.
During the Formula One press conference hosted by Haas Automation the new team name was announced and a groundwork was laid out on what it would take to get started. The team will be known as Haas Formula and will be based in Kannapolis, North Carolina on the same campus as Stewart-Haas Racing. While it is on the same campus and some of the existing NASCAR team may be involved, Stewart and the other drivers for Stewart-Haas Racing will not be considered for the driving jobs. The NASCAR season is too long and Haas Formula would like to have an experienced F1 driver behind the wheel to start.
Haas Formula would like to compete in the 2015 season, which will start in March, however that is not set in stone. In the next few weeks the team led by Haas and Steiner will need to start getting the basics lined up. The team will meet with engine providers to find a power plant for the car and a chassis builder to get the ball rolling. In the future Haas hopes to have Haas Formula competing in both the drivers championship and the constructor’s championship for F1. Right now he just wants to be able to get a car put together and ready to go. The engine will either come from Mercedes or Ferrari. While no agreement has been announced, the only chassis manufacture mentioned during the press conference was the Italian company Dallara Automobili.
Steiner did mention that he would be talking to Stefano Domenicali and other connections that he has in the F1 world to start building the team. It was not clear if Domenicali, who quit this morning as Ferrari’s F1 boss, would be offered a position. The former leader of Ferrari’s F1 team would be a big score for Haas Formula if he did come aboard.
Haas would like to find an experienced driver who understands the current F1 rules and technology. Haas would also like to see a young American driver with a lot of potential join the team in the future. While Haas said his Stewart-Haas Racing drivers would not be involved, it appears that Bernie Ecclestone would like to see a specific NASCAR driver make the jump. Ecclestone, who is the current president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration, stated recently that he would like to see Danica Patrick drive in F1.
While Patrick was not discussed during the Formula One press conference held by Haas Automation, she would be a likely candidate as a number 2 driver, even if it was just temporary. Patrick has open wheel experience after driving in the IndyCar series before making the jump to NASCAR. Patrick is also a driver for the Stewart-Haas Racing team. Patrick originally dismissed Ecclestone’s desire to see her in Formula 1, stating that she was not interested in leaving NASCAR. However, now that one of her bosses has thrown his hat into F1, maybe that will change.
Commentary by Carl Auer