As Haas F1 takes a year to reflect on its attack of Formula 1, it’s a prudent move that will give them time to fully evaluate the enormity of their task. The most pressing questions:
- Who will drive for the team?
- Where will the team be located?
- What engine will they use?
- How can the team be competitive in F1 when they are located far from its epicenter?
Some of those questions were answered in an interview at Forbes in which team owner Gene Haas revealed that there would possibly be a two-pronged attack to the challenge:
“our plan is to have aero in Charlotte and engine work in Europe.” He adds “we are still looking at having a shop in Europe. England maybe would be the place to go because that’s where most of the Formula One teams are. We can’t do anything in Italy because of the tax presence there but you obviously have Formula One itself in the south of England so that would be a potential site.”
The issue at hand, as the article points out, is the logistics of travel. Formula 1 offers free air transport to and from races and those flights are based from London and Munich so it behooves Haas Formula to be close to the staging ground for logistics reasons alone.
Much has been made of Mercedes and their complete ecosystem from engine design all the way through to chassis development and Ferrari enjoys that approach as well. True, it does make a difference but red Bull showed us that a customer team could win if everything is done correctly—or if you have an Adrian Newey.
Haas would do well to have design and perhaps chassis development in Charlotte but the racing operation would best be served in the UK for financial and logistics reasons. Gene plans on being in Montreal this weekend to discuss that very thing:
“I’m planning on going to Montreal,” he says. “There’s a lot of logistics that we are going to learn and this weekend we are going to be asking a lot of questions like ‘How do you get that box from here to there?’ ‘What are the logistics?’ ‘Where are all the airplanes that these things go in and what do they look like?”
The enormity of what has to be done does makes one wonder why simply buying a team like Sauber or Caterham or even Marussia may not have saved a few dollars:
“we are going to be looking for parts and pieces and looking very closely at what other teams bring, especially pit equipment, support equipment and getting an idea of their IT layouts and pit boxes. We are kind of familiar with that from the NASCAR side but this is all different and new so we have to find the suppliers that build all that stuff.” It doesn’t come cheap.
“We are looking for transporters, infrastructure and pit boxes. We have got to buy all that stuff because we are starting from scratch. If you had that stuff in place that would make a big difference. We don’t have any of that at the moment. The good news is that it will all be new.”
Ultimately Haas Formula will have to create everything from scratch but this isn’t Gene’s first rodeo. He’s a very experienced team owner in motor sport and a keen businessman and founder of Haas Automation—a billion dollar company in revenue.