American entrepreneur and NASCAR team owner Gene Haas targeting to build a complete American F1 team.
F1 experts recommended that Haas must start Britain’s Motorsport Valley based team, if he need more better F1 resources. During the interview with Formula1 official website, Haas make clear that they are not planning to just take European resources and Haas Formula will known as an American F1 team.
Q: Your plans to base your team in the US have raised a lot of eyebrows, especially after Kenny Anderson and Peter Windsor’s ill-fated project of a few years back. Can you make that work?
GH: I think in this age of communication so much can be done on the Internet. Our base will always be Kannapolis, North Carolina. We plan to run a small shop in Europe where the cars come in and are refurbished and worked on, but the main facilities for building and design will be Kannapolis.
Q: F1 racing is probably more about talent than location. Where do you get the talent that you need? It’s already difficult to lure talent outside of the UK, unless you’re Ferrari…
GH: America has tremendous resources. Americans are very creative – some of the best – so we are not planning to just take European resources. This will be an American team, and it will have American people at the top, but of course we will also take on people from other countries with F1 experience.
Q: Gene, you are a major player in the all-American NASCAR series and suddenly you have decided to come into Formula One racing, a form of motorsport still somewhat alien to many US race fans. Why is that?
Gene Haas: Ha, I don’t think that it is that alien. Formula One has been working in the American mind-set for decades. I would even go so far as saying that Americans like Formula One racing. I remember back to 1975 and the Long Beach Grand Prix – that was quite something. I’ve been a fan since then – and I was pretty young back then.
Q: You are a successful race team entrepreneur and now you will be effectively starting from the bottom again. What’s the appeal in that? And where do you see the upside for you?
GH: Well, we’ve used NASCAR to help sell our Haas Automation products in America – we sell CNC machine tools – and racing in NASCAR has been very good at that. So the idea was to join Formula One and take our brand and raise awareness of it – by taking it to the premier brand of motorsport. Formula One is a premium brand in the rest of the world and associating ourselves with that will help sell our products throughout the world.
Q: In the F1 paddock there are teams with 600-plus people on the payroll and others with 200 employees. Where will your team settle?
GH: I think when you have 600-plus people nobody really knows what everybody is doing. I think in racing you need a small group of core people who know what they are doing – in that way you get a lot more accomplished than with a huge organisation. That’s how we raced in the US and that’s our goal in F1. Our plan is not to make every single part for F1 ourselves – we want to buy as much technology as we can from a partner and we only make what we have to. We will be a fairly lean organisation. And my experience is that racing loves lean organisation. You’ve got to be quick and fast – you’ve got to be lean!
Q: You have decided to postpone your debut from 2015 to 2016. Why is that?
GH: Actually we never postponed it. We’ve been given the option to join in 2015 or 2016. The whole process of getting the licence and all that, everything was taking a bit longer. And then there were the simple administrative things with accounting that you need when having people work in many different countries. And then we suddenly noticed, wow, in six months we have to have a car done, so we decided to go for 2016. Racing in 2015 would have meant throwing everything on it, so 2016 made more sense.
Q: Are there already sponsors interested in joining?
GH: The sponsor matter is a bit like chicken and egg – what comes first? We are of course talking to sponsors, but sponsors aren’t going to come until they see a car. Saying that our intention is to go racing will not do – nobody will sign on that prospect. And my intention is to prove that we can do it – and then we will go and ask partners for money. I don’t feel comfortable promising that we will deliver whatever – I want to show first that we can. We can do F1 with or without sponsors. (Source:Formula1.com)