Gene Haas has admitted he is 'nervous' ahead of his eponymous team's maiden Formula 1 race, saying he is in awe to be present in such prestigious company.
Having developed a successful NASCAR team in recent years, Haas will make the ambitious step into F1 this year with his own 'ground up' operation, one of only a handful of teams to enter the sport 'from scratch' (not through an existing entry) in the last 25 years.
Though preparations have been stunted by technical issues in a shortened pre-season testing programme, which wasn't then helped by damp conditions limiting running on the first day of the Australian Grand Prix, Haas says every knock-back is something that Haas can learn from.
“I'm nervous,” he admitted. “I think there are a lot of things going on here that I'm new to and the team is new too. So, putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together along with all the personnel and having it all come together for the first time has been a learning experience.
“That's really what we're here for is to learn how Formula One really operates from the ground floor. Your can watch this racing your whole life but there's nothing like being a participant to really understand it and I have a lot of respect for the teams that are here and the level of technical competence you have to have to even start one of these races. I'm pretty much in awe. It's a challenge and I hope it's a lot of fun.”
Indeed, Haas says he is maintaining modest expectations for the team in early stages, but says points would be a 'tremendous achievement'.
“I think you have to look at it in terms of years. I have the feeling that if you over-anticipate what you can do in the sport it will humble you very quickly. I think the first year or two just to be able to come to the races, be competitive, not make any major mistakes would be a tremendous achievement. I know a few of our drivers are hoping to score some points and that would certainly be an accomplishment.”