Interview with Gene Haas

I just watched an interview with Gene Haas during the rain delay of Qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix.
Haas came across as a deeply frustrated man. Having set up his own Formula 1 team from scratch, headquartered in the USA, he is now in his second season of F1. Superficially the team has done well, scoring points regularly. Haas did most things right, hiring experienced F1 leaders such as Gunther Steiner, and making deals with Ferrari (to supply engines, drivetrain and other parts) and Dallara to supply the chassis, in order to assure quality.
However, Haas is clearly concerned by the combination of the budgets in F1, and the reality that only three teams currently have any chance of winning races.
Whether the interview reflected his real position on the continued participation of the Haas team in F1 is difficult to tell. In this sport, public posturing and negotiation has been the norm for decades, as most of the key participants followed the divide-and-rule lead of Bernie Ecclestone. Liberty F1 are clearly not of the same mind. Chase Carey has consistently stated in interviews that he believes that businesses should negotiate privately and only announce deals after they are completed. So he may not be too happy about this public positioning by Haas. However, a lot of the Haas team infrastructure is shared with his NASCAR operation, so if he does decide to withdraw from F1, Haas can probably put that infrastructure to use, and find jobs for some of his personnel.
At any point in time, there are usually F1 teams available for sale. This has been the case for some time, ever since the slow distortion of revenue and payment structures created the current scenario, were the top three teams get given large guaranteed sums of money just for showing up. The last F1 attempt to bring new teams into the sport, which initially attracted Manor, Caterham, HRT and the failed-to-make-it USF1, did not end well, with all of the teams now defunct. Haas is the first new team in a long time to actually do well in its first two seasons. However, it is clear from Gene Haas’ comments that he is far from convinced that F1 is where he wants to be long-term.


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