11 April 2014
New US team awarded FIA Formula 1 licence
A new US-based racing team is confirmed as heading to Formula 1, after Gene Haas announced on Friday that his bid for an FIA licence had been accepted.
Gene Haas has confirmed that is company has been awarded a Formula 1 license by the FIA that will allow him to set up the first US racing team since Penske Racing competed in the world championship in the 1970s and Haas-Lola in the mid-1980s, the latter founded by Teddy Mayer and Carl Haas (no relation.)
“Obviously, we're extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula 1 license by the FIA," said Haas in a press statement released on Friday, "It's an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula 1."
The news had earlier been officially endorsed by a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Marrakech.
"The FIA has launched a selection procedure for an additional F1 team(s), and applications of a high standard have been received," said the FIA in a press release. "In close consultation with the CRH [Commercial Rights Holder], the FIA has accepted the candidature of Haas Formula LLC and are in the process of conducting further investigations for Forza Rossa."
Haas was in no doubt as to the task that laid before him.
"Now, the really hard work begins," he admitted. "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," he said, adding that a full press conference to discuss the successful bid is due to take place on Monday, April 14 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Founded in 1983 and based in Oxnard, California, Haas Automation is the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world. Haas is also co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which won the 2011 championship with Tony Stewart.
Haas made the headlines last year when Stewart - his co-owner in the team - was sidelined in hospital with injury. With Stewart incommunicado, Haas took the unilateral move to sign the controversial Kurt Busch to the team, which meant expanding it to a four-car line up that also includes former IndyCar star Danica Patrick.
"That's a pretty cool deal," said Stewart after the news broke "Not anybody can just go get one of those, so he had to go through the approval process and got approved and I'm happy for him.
“I won't have any involvement in it," he added. "It doesn't affect the Cup stuff ... It's two totally separate programs."
Haas has been pursuing a place on the F1 grid since the FIA opened up a tender for new teams. Initially it appeared that Haas had little hope of being successful with his application and F1 business supremo Bernie Ecclestone attempted to steer Haas into investing in an existing F1 team needing an injection of funds instead, but Haas remained committed to his vision of a new US-centric team instead.
Ecclestone subsequently seemed won over by Haas' business case, and last Sunday in Bahrain he had indicated that he now expected the bid to be successful and signed off by the FIA in the near future. It's not clear how quickly Haas will now be able to undertake the necessary preparations to set up the race team, with 2015 possibly too early for the new squad to make its debut on the grid where it would become the sport's 12th team.
A multi-millionaire from his businesses, Haas also founded Windshear, a 180-mph rolling-road wind tunnel in Concord, North Carolina which is the first of its kind in North America. It is only the third rolling-road wind tunnel of its scale in existence and the world's first commercially available, full-scale, rolling-road wind tunnel.
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