The FIA have officially offered a spot on the Formula 1 grid to Gene Haas who had made application back in February. The sport will see its first American-owned F1 team in decades.  Haas said:

“Obviously, we’re extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula 1 license by the FIA,” he said.

“It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula 1.

“Now, the really hard work begins. It’s a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid.

“I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition.”

F1 fans are eager to hear the details of how Haas will approach this global racing series which is quite different than his interests in Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR. Traveling the US is difficult and expensive or the stock car series given the amount of races they attend but the global logistics of Formula 1 are a different beast entirely. Where will the operation be located? Who will head the design team? What chassis will they use or will they build their own? What power unit will the bolt to the back of their chassis? Who will be their social media “expert” and what social cause can they show people they are sensitive too with selfies and cute hashtags? What size picture of Jim Clark will be on their office wall and will the team be reviewing the CV of Mike Coughlan or Martin Whitmarsh?

You get the idea, the important things. Early days yet but still exciting…and for those of you in the UK or anywhere else around the world, you can stop with the Scott Speed jokes already. Give us a little slack, we’ve not been doing this properly since the 70’s.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Kevin

    What was the last real US team in F1 that had some success? Shadow did fairly well, and overcame some horrible incidents, until they lost their title sponsor when they went downhill.

    • Penske was the last American team to win an F1 race in 1976.

  • Steve C

    This is great news. WE should all be cheering, not only for an American team but for any new team coming in. Good luck to all involved.

  • dude

    Maybe I’m wrong, but my first impression is: Don’t do it, it’s not a good investment.

    But at this rate, looks like Caterham is up for grab pretty soon.

  • WOW. Well it is time to get busy America, there are race to win… and you will have my unwavering support…

  • Mike Steck

    I agree with the raised eyebrows and questions from the USA fans. We have had how-many false starts and unsafe releases for F1 to take hold? But the horizon is changing, and we rabid fans sometimes miss the forest because we are looking at the DRS trees. Some MAJOR F1 pate-shifting has occurred on the landscape. Senna the film. I know, its small in what we see…but even here in a Governmental building I work in, people have watched this and are entranced with the magic that is Ayrton. These are non-racing fans! Then RUSH…and I know that its getting F1 onto the USA map because I am standing behind families at Redbox who pick that movie saying, “i heard this is really good’. Then Austin. I was at the first race there and it is incredible the embracing of Texas and all America for F1 because of this venue. Now we have Mercedes. Yes,yes, Ferrari have had customer cars available in the USA forever and it has not influenced F1. But, Mercedes carries affordable machines and they are seen everyday. As the year progresses, and Lewis becomes more known, you think between the Simon Fuller Agency and all the International might of the Mercedes marketing team that we wont see insane adage for the brand and Lewis and F1 come mid year, let alone Texas? All this to say, yes F1 is prohibitively expensive, but with these developments, as F1 makes more SENSE to investors who can see a practical return, I believe it can well be time for a solid USA team to have the legs to stand tall.

    • The time does seem ripe. For whatever reason (I credit the reg changes), Ford (as well as BMW) have rumored F1 return designs, and the Austin race and prospective others, as well as the recent movies have brought the sport into general public consciousness here.

      I’d initially thought Haas spec’ing a Dallara chassis a mistake, but upon further reflection, it looks a good move. USF1 IMO failed because of dubious funding, and also internal discord over whether building a bespoke chassis or hiring one out was the best move. If Haas is to make the grid in ’15, I believe they must accept being a back marker as they acclimate to F1. By turning chassis, engine and gearbox to others, Haas can concentrate on operational demands in its first year, as well as aerodynamic upgrades and timely/efficient machining. Not sexy from a performance standpoint, but I think a sustainable and sensible outlook for long-term success.

  • As a non-American, I still think it’s great that an American team is finally headed towards F1. And I really hope they’ll do well. On the other hand, I fear that being based in the US could be a major problem. Most of the F1 ecosystem is located in the UK and most races still take place in Europe. Also, I’ve heard that Haas’ wind tunnel is illegal to use for F1, which could be another setback.
    Be that as it may, I’m sure this team will make it (unlike USF1) and I hope that it will be immediately quick.

  • Wow Tom, where did you read the Wind Shear tunnel being illegal for F1? I’d think exposure for Haas Automation and Wind Shear would be Mr. Haas’ primary motivation for entering. If that’s true, I’m curious what his motivation is.

    I’m not so sure a US-based op-center and factory are such a negative. It’s a logistical problem, but Tier 2/3 suppliers can be sourced here, so it’s just shipping parts. No mean feat, but Haas has resources. And, granted, North Carolina’s in the middle of nowhere (Wind Shear), but if based in Southern California (CNC headquarters, 7-ish of the 10 events would be just as/more easily reached than a European base, with more in the future if prospective events do in fact become reality (The Mexico’s/Russia’s/additional US races.)

    I’m cautiously optimistic; no podiums yet. However, unlike USF1, the Haas organization is intimately familiar w/ race team operations. I agree F1 logistics are a completely different ballgame, but Mr. Haas’ record does show remarkable adaptability to various series’ unique requirements.

    If F1’s to have a chance in the States, now is the time. Media and content exposure at at a high, with a seemingly-reputable US entry. Although I don’t like the nationalistic bent, a US driver is the final puzzle piece.

    How wonderful would it be to see a white striped over blue-liveried Haas on the grid? :D

    • Tom Firth

      Sam Collins of Racecar Engineering mentions the legality issue here –

      • I assumed a full sized wind tunnel could accommodate any manner of scaling; is that untrue? So, a 100% scale wind tunnel can only accurately-model a 100% car?

        If so, I see it now.

        -Section 1.3, Appendix 8 of the Sporting Regs restricts the models to 60%

        I would think barometrics could be scaled for the model below the tunnel’s capacity, but my knowledge of wind tunnel operation is obviously lacking.

        • Tom Firth

          I heard somewhere the issue would be the way the car is mounted for a 60% model being very difficult to achieve in Wind Sheer due to it’s design.

          I know TMG has two tunnels, One at 100% at one at 60% or at least they did at one point not too long ago.

  • Tom Firth

    My thoughts by the way on a Haas F1 operation now is it stands a decent chance, alot stronger of a chance than USF1 did, some major obstacles to overcome as Todd mentions but I think it probably at this stage has more credibility of succeeding than alot of recent non manufacturer teams to join the F1 circus.

    • Tom Firth

      I just can’t wait for the first few F1 people on this side of the pond to get confused and think it’s related to Carl Haas.

  • Patrick Brass

    Awesome potential. How do we get American fan’s behind this? How about by putting a young American Race car driver like Connor De Phillippi behind the wheel…

  • Is it only me that is screaming Ross Brawn?
    That cagy fox would have known… and that’s perhaps why he’s sitting out a year, fishing.
    If they siddle up to Honda, the odds go up, not down.

    • Rapierman

      The words I’m hearing are Dallara chassis married to Ferrari engine. Would have been better if they went with a Merc engine, but there you are.

      • We’ll see; Renault/Ferrari will have the winter to substantially redesign and repackage their PU’s. What I’d find hysterical is if Ferrari allowed Haas to rebadge its PU “Chrysler/Dodge/SRT.” Even better if it was “Ram” or “Jeep,” to take the American thing further.

        On a serious note, how does NASCAR sponsorship work? Are sponsor’s for the team, the individual cars, the driver? I wonder if, say Budweiser, would follow Haas to F1.

        • Tim C

          In NASCAR, a team will typically have a primary sponsor for each car and then several associate sponsors. The cost of participating in NASCAR has now gotten to the point now that a lot of the teams have multiple primary sponsors that share space on the race car. It’s nothing for a top flight sponsor, such as Lowes Home Improvement, to spend between $15M – $30M per year to be a primary sponsor for the entire year.

          • Tom Firth

            True but then you also get the endorsement side of sponsorship where drivers complete endorsements for the team sponsors in exchange for drivers having a large percentage of the salary paid by a sponsor. At times said sponsor will as a result build a relationship with the driver and swap sponsorship to whatever team the driver moves too.

            Similar to Alonso in f1 since 2007.

          • Tom Firth

            Excuse the spelling etc, writing on my phone at 3am.

  • The Captain

    I’m cautiously optimistic.

    Use the HONDA engine!

    And build your own car. Please don’t let Dallara design the chassis. Please don’t let Dallara design the chassis. Please don’t let Dallara design the chassis.

  • Joseph Simmons

    One billion dolllars! One billion dollars! Just let the number marinate for a minute

    That’s the number, without a budget cap, Mr. Haas, if you want to compete on the sharp end of the grid in five years. By the way, there is no guarantee of being in the top tier with this spend. At this point, you have two ways to proceed either Q3 with the Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, and Red Bull. Now there is another way battling for Q1; Sauber, Marussia, Toro Rosso, and Caterham route. I’m quite sure either Mr. Bernie Ecclestone or Charlie Whiting told you about some of F1 constructors in the “not good enough or the money dried up” graveyard; HRT, USF1, Pacific, Simtek, Prost, or Super Aguri. In some ways, F1 is like “Game of Thrones; you win, you lose, or you die!

    Here are just some of the daunting challenges facing your brand new team. Where’s your base of operation; England, Italy, or Charlotte? You’ll need to have a PR, marketing, and communication department in place by May 2014. Of course, they’ll need to scour the globe for sponsors for 200-250 million dollars too. By March 2015, you’ll need to have F1 engineers, mechanics, support staff, drivers, and team principal. Plus your team will need to field a 2015 Dallara chassis which will be fitted with a customer Ferrari engine. This package must pass scrutineering by the FIA in December. Will you present a Haas racing cars for the green light?

    Mr. Gene Haas, you should be very proud to be granted a F1 entry. Not to many American teams have been able to achieve such a honor. Please take the time to enjoy this moment. Because on Monday, you’ll face an enormous challenge to compete at the highest level of racing and represent the USA! As a F1 US fan, I wish you all the best on your journey to the grid.

    • MIE

      One billion dollars for a five year programme is only 200 million a year. That is less than Lotus spends now (£130M approx. $218M), look how successful Lotus are. Ferrari and Red Bull are spending in the region of £250M a year approximately $419M a year. That would work out a two billion dollars for your five year programme.

  • jiji the cat

    good on him and well done. I hope it can be a success. Personally i would have bought a portion of Caterham, Marussia, Sauber, or Lotus, as they all need funds and could have been a cheaper way in.

  • MIE

    While I wish the team well, it does appear that they have been set-up to fail, by giving an entry for 2015 rather than 2016. It is a very short time to get all the resources needed to build a car for the first pre-season test in January.
    Also the location of the team may prove an additional challenge. Well funded teams (e.g. Toyota) and not so well funded teams (e.g. HRT) have found problems in getting the right Suitable Qualified and Experienced Personnel when located in areas remote from other F1 teams. Even Caterham moved from Norfolk to Leafield in order to help resolve this problem. If F1 staff won’t move their families 140 miles across southern England, what hope does an American based team have of recruiting any experienced people. While it is possible that the extensive local talent could produce a competitive car, it is likely that to do so will mean they don’t take advantage of lessons that have previously been learned.

    • Agreed, the timeframe is extremely short for building a team from scratch. The established F1 teams are all working on their 2015 car while Haas is still building a team. By the time his outfit is up and running, the F1 grid will polish their designs.

      Maybe the idea is to purchase a chassis for 2015 (Dallara) and immediately start working on the 2016 car.

      Then again, more important than time is talent. Caterham have presumably been working on their 2014 car for two years, given that they didn’t build a 2013 car but instead ran with a slightly adapted 2012 chassis. And yet they haven’t produced anything worth mentioning. So the most important task will be to acquire engineering talent.

    • What an insightful perspective, one I hadn’t thought of. Staff experienced w/ F1 operational dictums/strategies/designs must be an invaluable commodity, and of course they’d be located mostly in the UK/central-European countries where F1 opportunities most prevalent. How one might assume most talented NASCAR personnel would lie in the Carolinas/Tennessee’s/Southern States in the US.

      Agreed, if it can even get on the grid in ’15, the Hass team’s car will be a back marker; why I don’t mind them going w/ Dallara (Hello HRT). I’d hope and expect Mr. Haas has taken this into account, that he’s culling assembling the personnel and organizing logistics and base operations rather while sacrificing debut performance.

      I’d expect there’s a strong pro-US sentiment for why he didn’t purchase a foundering team, and why a US base would be considered. The only reasoning might be a desire to entice US-biased advertisers. Interviews I’ve seen of Mr. Haas point to a pragmatic and thoughtful man; hope that translates to sustained success.

      • MIE

        Another issue is the transport to and from races. Existing teams point out how hard it is to develop the cars during the ‘fly away’ races as it takes longer and costs more to get new parts from the factory than it does during the European races that make up the bulk of the middle part of the season. An American based team may have an advantage for the race in Austin and possibly Montreal, but will be at a disadvantage for many more events.

      • Wherever the team is based, they better poach some talent on the existing F1 grid, otherwise they’re bound to reinvent the wheel, no matter how talented their crop of designers is.

        However, for 2015, it’s probably already too late to poach people as contracts are usually extended early in order to prevent vital information from leaving the team.

  • Ever-present “press releases divulge nothing” caveats aside, it looks like many of our assumptions about Haas’ intentions have some truth behind them.

    *Entering F1 to enhance Haas Automation’s worldwide exposure

    *2016 a possibility
    The desire and goal is to get on the grid in ’15, but there’s acknowledgement that organizational hurdles could delay the team until ’16. That concession speak to me that Mr. Haas has taken steps to assure funding for a later date if necessary.

    *Strong reliance on technical partnerships for inaugural year
    Haas mentions the first car being a “customer car,” one in which the chosen technical partner will design as much of it as is allowed under the regs. 2015/16 will be a learning year from a design/performance standpoint.

    Haas does mention a car-assembly “office” in Italy/Germany, depending upon technical partner. Could the truly global office work, w/ main strategy and design headquarter US-based, supplementary fabrication and assembly in Europe? Makes sense having global offices, with lead times being so short, unsure if it translate in F1.

    *Nationalistic ties
    As expected, the new team will rely upon a “shake up the establishment” image, trumping American industrialism and innovative approaches. Jokes aside about efficiency, it’s IMO an effective strategy for luring new sponsorship to F1.

    Overall, the pragmatism I’ve attributed to Mr. Haas is displayed w/ the press release. I might personally do a few things differently, but it looks like the new team is taking the challenges realistically, is tempering expectations, and attempting to partner w/ necessary experienced hands, whilst playing to its strengths (advertising connections, machining might). Eagerly anticipating more announcements…