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GP Week : Issue 200
F1 >>> FEATUrE 30 GPWEEK.com // 30 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Who will drive? TBA. Haas; “Ideally, we’d like would be to have an experienced Formula 1 driver – probably someone who is familiar with the current engine package rules. They change quite a bit, even from last year. Then, going for ward, we’d certainly like to have a young American driver. That would be the ideal situation. “But at the moment we haven’t really narrowed it down. I know we’ve had quite a few people talk to us or send in applications about they’d be interested. But we haven’t ... we don’t have anything at the moment. "Other than the fact that we’d need an experienced current Formula 1 driver that maybe becomes available in the next six months to a year, and maybe a younger driver that has a lot of potential. Hopefully that would be an American driver.” GPWeeK says; No F1 team usually picks its drivers based on their nationality unless sponsors are involved. And American fans are much more likely to back an American driver than someone else. But who? Where? In North Carolina – perhaps with a satellite in Brussels, where Haas Automation has its European office. Haas; “Obviously, a World Championship involves going around the world, so that is the first part of it. The Kannapolis campus will basically be for manufacturing and engineering. We’re going to try to do most of the engineering there and building of the pieces.” Steiner; “The cars this year went from Europe to Bahrain for the test, the first test. They stayed in Bahrain, they tested again, and then they flew direct from Bahrain to Australia, from Australia direct to Malaysia, then to Bahrain for racing and now they’re on the way to China. They never go back. “So in Europe they don’t see the cars as well. So it doesn’t make a lot of difference logistically, but for the European season you need to have base because you work out of haulers in Europe. It doesn’t make a difference if you come from America or Europe, in that sense.” GPWeeK says; One of the challenges of a base in the usA will be recruiting quality staff, in the sufficient numbers, to live there. How Much? Lots of money. Lots. Haas; “We have a budget. There are a lot of unknowns in it. But we have budgets for what the engine packages will cost and those numbers are well known. I think a lot of the exponential rise in cost is something that maybe was in the past. If you go back to, say like somewhere maybe five to 10 years ago where the rules were anything goes in exotic aero packages and exotic wind tunnels, these were the things that were driving the cost up. Then with the recession in 2008, things changed. “Actually, the rules have become much more favourable. Like, say, there used to be maybe eight different suppliers of engines. You had every major car manufacturer building their own engine for Formula 1. There is no doubt that they’re spending $200 to $300 million dollars just to build an engine for a single car. Today, there are three current engine suppliers and they’re required to make their engine packages available. So we’re going to take advantage of those rules.” GPWeeK says; The current rear-of- grid teams (and even a recent podium finisher like Force India) are struggling for survival in F1. The team better be prepared to tear up a lot of dollars. Which engine? Which chassis? Haas; “Obviously there are really only two engine suppliers available at the moment – Mercedes and Ferrari. "The chassis supplier would be Dallara who is obviously experienced in building IRL cars. We’re not looking to start our own shop immediately. We need to have people that already have people on the ground, actually making carbon fibre parts and making tubs and so on and so forth. “So we’ve had some preliminary talks with Dallara, and they’re ready to go. They have a complete facility. They have experience. They know what they’re doing.” GPWeeK; Dallara does know what it is doing – in every category except F1. For Haas Formula to play with the Big Boys, Dallara will have to raise its game to a new level. With Honda joining McLaren for 2015, Mercedes-Benz will have a vacancy for a customer team. That could be a factor. Is this another usF1, waiting to fail? According to Haas, no. “I think the differences between Haas, CNC, Stewart-Haas Racing, Wind Shear is what makes us different than US F1. US F1 was a start-up that had no resources whatsoever. It didn’t have a racing team. They took on a huge challenge. “Like I said, I admire the fact that they took that challenge, but on the other hand, I’m partners with Tony Stewart in a very successful NASCAR racing team. I have a machine tool company that has the capability of building the most sophisticated machines in the world. "We built five axis machines. We build all the machines that we need to make our parts. I have a rolling road wind tunnel, Wind Shear, a 180 mile-an- hour wind tunnel. So I have a lot of the resources and basic infrastructure that I think is necessary in order to succeed at this. I think US F1 didn’t have that.” GPWeeK; Haas does have a better starting point than usF1 but it will need a massive investment– possibly for five years – to mix it with the best in F1. And that could be a billion dollar project ... Haas is a partner in leading US NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing, and so already has some significant infrastructure in place.