American industrialist Gene Haas has hit back at Formula One ‘whiners’ who have questioned the merit of his team’s achievements in their first two races.
“This place is a soap opera,” the team founder and chairman, who also co-owns the successful Stewart-Haas team in the U.S NASCAR series, told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday.
“I think a lot of the teams at the back really don’t understand what competition is. They’re getting maybe a little too fat and happy,” added Haas.
Haas — based in Kannapolis, North Carolina — are the first U.S.-owned team in Formula One in 30 years and have had a dream debut so far.
Fifth in the 11-team standings, they entered Formula One on the back of a technical collaboration with the sport’s most successful team Ferrari.
That means they have the Italian squad’s power unit, gearbox and other components that are allowed under strict rules governing parts sourced from existing competitors.
That has irked some established teams who have spoken of Haas as effectively a Ferrari ‘B’ outfit rather than authentic constructors.
“I guess in a sense there are a lot of whiners in F1 that talk about our success,” said Haas, whose team’s chassis has been designed in house but built in Italy by Dallara.
“We’re not going away, they better get used to it and if people don’t like it that’s their problem, not my problem.”
After two races, Haas have 18 points, behind only dominant Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams and ahead of struggling former world champions McLaren — who have just one point to their credit.
Haas’s French driver Romain Grosjean finished sixth in the season-opening race in Australia, making the team the first to score points on their debut since Toyota in 2002, and followed that up with fifth in Bahrain.
“We never came into this thing to run at the back,” said Haas, whose team are Formula One’s first completely new entrants since 2010, when Lotus Racing, Hispania and Virgin Racing made their debuts.
Only the latter still survive under the new name of Manor.
“We want to compete, and that’s what we’re going to do,” added the American, whose Haas Automation company is the largest machine tool manufacturer in North America. (Reuters)