Pillars of Strength
Haas F1 Team and Circuit of the Americas Serve as
Cornerstones for Formula One in the United States
AUSTIN, Texas (Oct. 23, 2015) – For the Formula One community, this weekend’s United States Grand Prix marks another stop on the 2015 calendar. For Gene Haas, founder and chairman of Haas F1 Team, it’s a homecoming.
Haas F1 Team will make its debut in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2016, becoming the first American-led Formula One team in 30 years. With its headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina, located adjacent to Haas’ title-winning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, Haas F1 Team serves as another pillar for Formula One in the United States.
The first pillar is Circuit of the Americas, the exquisite 20-turn, 5.513-kilometer (3.426-mile) road course in Austin, Texas, that plays host to this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, Round No. 16 on the 19-race Formula One schedule.
“As an American team, having an F1 race on American soil is incredibly important,” Haas said. “In four months, we’ll be testing our car in Barcelona. In five months, we’ll be on the grid in Australia. A year from now, we’ll be racing in our home country, hopefully having scored some points and proving that we can hold our own with the established teams of Formula One.”
Before Haas F1 Team was officially announced in April 2014, Formula One was already gaining a strong foothold in the United States thanks to Circuit of the Americas, the country’s first purpose-built Formula One venue.
The track’s inaugural race came on Nov. 18, 2012. Lewis Hamilton won, with Sebastian Vettel winning in 2013 before Hamilton won again in 2014. In that 2013 race at Circuit of the Americas, a Frenchman named Romain Grosjean finished a career-best second. Nearly a month ago, Grosjean was named Haas F1 Team’s first driver.
“When you’re sitting there dicing it up with the 10 or 15 cars that are right next to you, he holds his ground, doesn’t give up anything, and usually he’s able to pull ahead of whoever he’s with,” Haas said of Grosjean, who has competed in 79 Formula One races and scored 10 podium finishes, with the most recent being a third-place result in August at the Belgian Grand Prix. “Those are the kind of attributes that for a driver are very, very important. Plus, he scores points.”
Haas believes scoring points on the racetrack will score international market share for Haas Automation, the CNC machine tool company Haas founded in 1983 and has since grown into a billion-dollar company.
“From an international standpoint, Formula One is the highest echelon of racing, and Haas Automation builds the highest-quality machine tools,” Haas said. “When you hear ‘F1’ you know exactly what it is – a global racing series that showcases the latest technology and attracts the best talent in engineering and design. Haas Automation has an excellent reputation in the United States and I want that reputation to grow worldwide. Connecting Haas Automation with F1 in name and in practice is the best way to grow our business and elevate Haas Automation to a premium, global brand.”
Haas knows the challenges of being a first-time Formula One team owner, and America’s limited history in Formula One places Haas F1 Team under an even greater microscope. But in addition to building Haas Automation, Haas has built a championship-winning NASCAR team and Windshear, one of the most advanced wind tunnels in the world. He is no stranger to entrepreneurship and innovation.
“I think when Gene decided to do this, he wanted to be efficient,” said Guenther Steiner, team principal, Haas F1 Team. “He has done all these projects, but never just by buying it. He’s very determined that he’s going to get this done.
“He’s got his own work ethic, and it’s incredibly strong. In everything he’s done, he’s asked, ‘How can we do this different and not just different, but more efficient?’ It’s incredible what Gene has achieved. And with this endeavor into Formula One, he’s doing it differently, but he’s also doing it smartly. Our technical partnership with Ferrari is proof of that.”
Scuderia Ferrari, the most successful team in the history of Formula One with 16 constructors titles and 15 driver championships, will provide Haas F1 Team its power unit, gearbox and overall technical support. The multiyear agreement forms a strong collaboration between the two organizations that will allow Haas F1 Team to be competitive in its inaugural season and in the years following.
“There is no team in Formula One more accomplished than Scuderia Ferrari, and no team with more history. They’ve been a part of Formula One from the beginning, and now they’ll be a part of Haas F1 Team’s beginning,” Haas said. “Aligning Haas F1 Team with such a tenured and successful company in Scuderia Ferrari provides our team with the greatest opportunity for success in 2016 and beyond.”
The United States Grand Prix weekend kicks off today with two practice sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. EDT, which will air live on NBCSN. NBCSN will also broadcastSaturday’s final practice and qualifying beginning at 12:30 p.m. Live coverage for Sunday’s race begins at 2:30 p.m. on NBC.
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine