28 January 2014
Haas ‘serious’ about F1 bid
NASCAR team owner Gene Haas intends to defy Bernie Ecclestone's gloomy outlook for his F1 bid.
Gene Haas has dismissed Bernie Ecclestone's claim that his bid to join the F1 field in 2015 is destined to fail, insisting that he's determined to make the jump from NASCAR.
What is more, he appears determined to do so from the USA, rather than setting up a European base, despite the previous American bid – the still-born USF1 – attempting the same strategy ahead of its planned appearance in 2010.
Forty-eight hours after Ecclestone appeared to play down the likelihood of Haas joining the fray, the head of the multi-million dollar Haas Automation engineering concern told a media gathering that he is serious, having already forked out the $5000 fee needed just to apply for consideration.
"Mr Ecclestone doesn't think I have enough money to do this, [and] he doesn't think we will get the license, so my chances probably aren't that great of a shot," Haas said, admitting that the F1 supremo's words were probably 'being as brutally honest with us as he can'.
"It scares me when the head of F1 says 'you can't afford this', as he probably knows what he's talking about,” he continued, “It was a little disheartening [and] if he's telling me I'm not going to get a licence, I appreciate that - it's better to know now than later. I don't want to spend a lot of time if I don't have a chance to get a licence.”
Despite the 'warning', however, Haas clearly has a plan in mind, revealing that he would prefer to set up the F1 operation next door to his four-car NASCAR Cup Series operation in North Carolina.
"We want to be an American team,” he noted, aware no doubt that there hasn't been a fully-fledged US entry since 1978, when Penske pulled out, “We think that has the most sizzle to it, but I won't know until I try. If you don't try, you'll never fail.
"We've looked at buying a team, but there are problems associated with that. First of all, it's tremendously expensive, with a lot of existing personnel you're responsible for. Some of them have a lot of debt you would have to pay off. So they all have their issues.
"Starting our own team has its problems too, but the good thing is that it would be an American team. That really was the number one fundamental priority -- to have an American team competing in a European series. The Europeans have their way of doing things, and we as Americans have our way of doing things. I think we could be competitive and successful.”
NASCAR co-owner Tony Stewart won't be a part of the F1 bid, but admits that, if anyone can make it happen, it's Haas.
"That's Gene's project, but it's pretty exciting," Stewart said, "Gene is the kind of person who, when he puts his mind to it, has the ability to stay focused. He's done that with the Cup side, he's done that with Haas Automation, and it's going to be exciting watching him try to do that in F1."
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