Drafting the Circuits
Formula 1 Report
Summer Break August 3rd
By Steve Aibel
For American racers, 2016 will be an exciting season in Formula 1. It has been a long time since America has had an American team competing in F1, but that will all change when Haas F1 Team takes their position on the grid. Gene Haas and Gunther Steiner will lead the F1 effort, which will be cooperatively based in both Kannapolis, North Carolina and Banbury, England.
US constructors do not have a successful record in Formula 1. Noted efforts by Parnelli, Eagle and Penske racing organizations have had, and I say this generously, mixed results with most teams retiring their efforts after just a few seasons. Even the vaunted Roger Penske only entered 41 F1 races between 1974 and 1977.
The most recent attempt to enter Formula 1 was the failed effort by US F1. The US F1 team was granted entry into the 2010 season but never placed a car on the track. With such an unsure record of participating in this top level of motorsports, it will take a unique approach and a keen businessman to make the grid and compete in the worldwide series.
Enter Gene Haas!
Haas could easily beat these odds and be the guy who tackles this mountain! If I were a betting man, I would rather put my dollars on Haas then against him.
Gene Haas is founder and president of Haas Automation, a company that produces Computer Numerical Control (CNC) tools. CNC tools are machine tools, such as lathes, mills, routers and grinders that are essentially controlled by computers. Haas formed his company in 1983 after developing the Haas 5C indexer. This tool was the first fully programmable collet indexer, which automatically repositions parts for machining. What is significant here is that Haas, plain and simply, had the smarts and guts to invent solutions for large scale problems. If there is a racing series where large-scale problems will need to be solved, it is F1
Haas has a history of successful racing endeavors, especially in the highly competitive NASCAR series. Gene Haas formed Haas CNC Racing in 2002 and currently partners with Tony Stewart to compete under the banner of Stewart-Haas Racing.
With Stewart–Haas, Gene Haas has once again shown the capacity to take risk and turn it into a successful venture. In their first season together, the team finished both cars in the top 10. The team is currently running 4 cars for Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick. Haas brought Busch on, after a myriad of issues on and off the track and has shown an ability to take certain risks when he sees an enormous upside.
It is this quality that makes me think that Haas F1 Team will not only tackle Formula 1, but experience success in the series. A great deal of Haas’ success falls in the strong partnerships that he is able to create with successful teams already entrenched within the series. His NASCAR team uses Hendrick engines and chassis. Hendrick benefits from this partnership by using Haas CNC machine tools.
Haas F1 Team seems to be using a similar formula for their F1 venture forming a technical partnership with F1 veteran Ferrari. Plain and simply this is a wise, shrewd, true and tested way to instantly gain credibility in the F1 paddock.
That’s right, Haas partners with Hendrick motorosports in NASCAR and Ferrari in F1!
The F1 team will be supplied with engines, chassis, and suspension components in a technical partnership that should see Haas instantly perform in the middle of the F1 pack at least. Is it reasonable to expect Haas F1 Team to collect points in their first race of 2016. I would not be at all surprised if this were the case. Haas was accepted into the series in 2015, but pushed back their entry date to 2016 so that the team could be more prepared when they debut in Australia.
Leading the charge for the F1 project will be Gunther Steiner as team principal. Steiner has a strong history in F1 as technical director of Jaguar and Red Bull Racing. Steiner was also a key figure in Red Bull’s attempt to enter NASCAR. The chassis will be built by Dallara and will pull from the experience of the Italian manufacturer.
“They have a complete facility, they’re experienced, they’ve been involved in racing forever as far as I can remember. It would be insurmountable to say we going to figure out how to build a chassis by ourselves and hire all the people in nine months. Our car is not going to be the Haas Formula car entirely, a lot of the technology will come from our partners to begin with.”
The key questions at this point concerns pilots!
Who will be selected to drive for the American F1 entry? Many names have been tossed around but one thing is for sure. Hass F1 team is looking for experienced F1 drivers who are able to assist with developing the car and the project.
Esteban Gutierrez seems to be the rumor mill front-runner for one of the two driver positions. Gutierrez has 38 F1 race starts for Sauber and is currently a reserve driver with technical partner Ferrari. Jean Eric Vergne, who raced for Toro Rosso, is also working with Ferrari in the role of test driver focusing on simulator work.
Both drivers, because of their experience and affiliation with Ferrari are probably in the discussion. But none would capture the American public the way that bringing in American Alexander Rossi would.
Rossi is currently racing in GP2 with Racing Engineering. This season, Rossi currently holds third position in the championship battle and has performed well showing strong pace and canny overtaking capabilities. Rossi is a polished racer with experience in Formula 1 as reserve driver for both Caterham and Marussia. Perhaps most importantly, Rossi has the required Formula 1 Superlicense needed to race in the top series. Bringing Rossi aboard would do wonders in reaching the American fan base that F1 works so hard to develop on this side of the Atlantic.
Expect a decision in the next few months and don’t be surprised to hear a bigger name announced when Haas F1 Team makes this decision. Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and even Romain Grosjean have been mentioned as possible candidates for the Haas race seats.
Either way, it is full throttle at this point for Haas and the evolving American race team. If there is anyone who can make this work, it is Gene Hass. His ability to innovate and partner have positioned the team in a unique position to not only debut in F1 but to make an immediate impact. We shall watch this develop with great interest.