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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.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Dicey

    The fact that he is going to have the car assembled in Europe is an extremely beneficial step ahead of what our fine friends at USF1 tried to do. There is no questioning the fact that all of the primary F1 suppliers are in Europe. As far as powertain goes, there is at least a possibility for a Mercedes engine since Mclaren is switching to Honda. The other idea of some interest has been the idea of Cosworth with Ford Ecoboost branding. Cosworth apparently has had a design done for a 2014 engine in case any interest came about. They would have plenty of time to implement the slick split turbo like Merc has, but likely would be down on power. Anyway, for now, I just hope they turn up on the grid, with a functional car.

    • jiji the cat

      the rumours with Cosworth is that they have a backer for their v6 turbo, what we don’t know is if its Ford or GM.

  • The performance is irrelevant, for the 1st year at least. Assembling the team infrastructure must take precedence, and a multi-year plan to grow the team’s self-sufficience. I already gave opinion here, but add that having machining services at the Europe factory will be crucial; as it is, separating design (assuming in US) from production will be a daunting challenge:
    http://www.formula1blog.com/f1-news/american-f1-team-gets-green-light-to-enter-f1/#comment-178489

    Choosing the engine manufacturer has as much to do with message and mechanical integration as outright power. Renault makes no sense, as even the Nissan/Infiniti arm has little sway in the general public mindset compared to Ferrari/Mercedes; the road car division has no relevant mass produced turbocharged engine for the public to relate its cars to, and Infiniti holds little prestige in any premium sector. It’s true Haas Automation doesn’t build road cars, but association w/ premium products IMO translates inter-discipline.

    Based on history, the Dallara chassis won’t be competitive, but it’s solely a template the team will learn from. One could argue Haas could procure the Mercedes engine and RB10 chassis and be no further ahead, as learning how to integrate an engine into a chassis, how tight cooling vs bodywork budgets are, how to develop aero for differing conditions, will be provide greater performance and more knowledge than a bunch of parts cobbled together.

    Mr. Haas has done a good job tempering expectations, whilst reassuring those stung by the USF1 mess; F1 is different, one can’t merely buy “good” pieces and compete for points. At the same time, he’s given us a rough outline of how he’ll surmount problems previous new teams have encountered, balancing ambitious goals with realistic timetables.

  • Tom Firth

    Watching the press conference earlier, I found it interesting that he mentioned Dallara and stated preliminary talks begun with them. Interesting on the engine front, he mentioned Ferrari and Mercedes as possibles but didn’t say Renault at all. Can we talk much from that or is that just thoughts of those two first ?

    The other thing I found interesting was Gene Haas saying about being economical in the way the team is run, being sensible in the way the money is spent and bringing an american way to F1, I find it interesting that he’s looking at a different approach but how that will translate into F1 as the project progresses, we will see.

    For Jeff when he reads this – Windshear is no longer an issue in terms of legality. Gene Haas stated it would be adapted.

    I think Dallara can do strong job as long as enough interaction between Haas Formula and Dallara going through the process. I know he stated the aim is to learn from the partners and eventually become a constructor as Haas Formula but that’s the one thing, I aren’t too sure about. Sure you have to learn the F1 way of doing things and that’s a massive part of being successful but I aren’t sure I like the idea of one day we will become an outright constructor.

    Biggest problem is though, it isn’t like he could put a team in GP2 as a team and learn the way before a full blown F1 team, using GP2 as training wheels for lack of a better term as could of being the way in history because you still don’t get any experience as a constructor as the car is built to a specification.

    I look forward to seeing how Haas progresses in the coming months, I think the potential is there. The other team that was looking at ’15 entry seems very slow off the ground, Haas seem to be making good progress.

    • I haven’t seen the press transcript yet; I know better than to read much into releases, but it’s irresistible, no? :)

      Thanks re: Windshear. Per our earlier exchange, I’d assumed the tunnels could run smaller-scale models, but your explanation before made sense. I wonder what the modifications entail.

      I agree, learning an operation model might have been a surer route. I think due to the message he wants to put forth for Haas Automation, he’s jumping into the technical deep end early, to “get it over with” as it were.

      I don’t sense impatience, rather an admission it’s going to painful no matter what, and a desire to tackle the difficulties summed; experiencing the reality of running an F1 team from the outset so fixes can be implemented immediately instead of wasting time in other Formulae where some knowledge will prove irrelevant.

      It’s why I applaud Haas decision to build a “spec” car using Dallara and partnership know-how, rather than attempt a bespoke car a la Lotus/Caterham and Virgin/Marussia in ’10. The above could be wishful thinking on my part…

  • Using a Dallara chassis and looking for a technology partner are smart moves. Designing a chassis might very well be the biggest hurdle when building a new team and while Dallara probably won’t produce anything to write home about, it will be a solid design at a low price. The first season will be all about getting to know the F1 circus, so it’s more important to have a reliable car than a bleeding edge car.

  • So, another HRT (the last team Dallara designed a chassis for) – Haas Racing Team

    • Rohan Deelen

      Now that was exactly what I was thinking. The last people who used them weren’t exactly jumping with joy over their F1 challenge.

      • Rohan Deelen

        I meant chassis not challenge.