Now that Gene Haas has a slot on the F1 grid for 2015, the hard work begins. In order to put a car on the grid, thousands of details have to be thought through. A few might be:
Brick and mortar: Europe or America? Where will the HQ be located? The answer is both. Current Stewart-Haas facility in Kannapolis North Carolina will be home to the Haas F1 and construction has already begun on the facility for the F1 shop. There will be a European location for car assembly and logistics during the season.
Chassis: Will they design and build their own or will someone be calling Dallara? Haas says he is weighing the options and should have an announcement in 4-6 weeks according to National Speed Sport News.
Infrastructure: The details of this can be rather large but thankfully Haas Automation has a massive IT and technology as well as communication infrastructure to piggyback on.
Engine…power units: It’s no mystery that there are three engine manufacturers currently in F1 with Honda coming on board in 2015. Teaming with a strong power unit maker could be a big acceleration in the early days so one has to look at Mercedes as a real potential but there may be a host of political issues as well as cash issues to deal with. Does Ferrari make sense. Haas says that he’d like to use the system they used in NASCAR:
“We’re going to do something similar to what we did in NASCAR, which is to try and partner with like a Hendrick Motorsports, so we can rely on them for a lot of the technical expertise,” Haas said. “Let’s face it, we’re new at this. There is going to have a long learning curve and to sit there and say we can understand what’s going on with these cars in a year or two is not reasonable.”
On a personal note, I’ll be interested to see how well this works within F1.
Drivers: Haas says he’d like to have a veteran F1 driver and perhaps a young American driver in the seat and you can imagine that this will most likely be a pay driver if current trends hold true. As for veterans with knowledge of the current power unit formula, that narrows things down a bit to drivers currently on the grid or reserve drivers.
Team Principal: That’s already been filled by Guenther Steiner so you can stop thinking Ross Brawn could have a new home.
Sponsors: Haas owns a large CNC machine company called Haas Automation and he’s very frank about using his F1 investment to promote his brand so look for Haas Automation to be the title sponsor. It could also be interesting if Zak Brown could lineup a Subway sponsorship as discussed by our friend Christian Sylt over at the Telegraph. Brown told Sylt:
“I took the Subway Chief Marketing Officer to meet Bernie [Ecclestone, F1’s chief executive] in Montreal last year, and I would say they have been exploring it for a year,” says Mr Brown. “They are all about the consumer, they are massive media buyers so they would look at a sport and see if it stacks up from a media point of view and Formula One does.”
Start date: With 2015 not that far away, one has to consider the amount of work that Haas has to do in order to field a car. Will he actually be ready for the 2015 season or would 2016 make more sense? Haas told NSSN:
“I would like to do 2015 simply because I think the first year is going to be a difficult year no matter what happens,” Haas said. “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 from race to race. The sooner we learn that the sooner we can be done with that.
“We would like 2015, but depending upon who we select as our partner I don’t know if they can provide all the infrastructure and technology that we would need (that fast). I think it is one of those things that we’re going to have to find out in the next few weeks.”
The weak link for me, and I hope I am proven wrong, will be the Dallara chassis. If they could assemble a team and put a Mercedes lump in the back, they could be in the fight but designing a chassis is no easy task and perhaps the Dallara option is the quickest way of getting the team on the grid.
Let’s hope the model works and the team can be more than permanent back markers. It will take time to compete at this level but Red Bull proved it can be done—but then they bought a great team to begine with and didn’t have to roll their own. The last American effort to try to join the F1 grid was stillborn and didn’t make it out of the gate before withering on the vine.