Will the newbies make the grade in F1?
Haas today – gone tomorrow?
New arrivals on the Formula One grid don’t happen everyday, and teams from across the Atlantic are an even rarer breed, perhaps a reflection of the on off relationship between F1 and the home of Indycar and Nascar. But 2016 will mark the debut of the first American team since the 1980s to enter the Piranha Club of Formula One. So everybody say hi to Haas F1.
Call it a Haarrari if you will.
Dream child of Gene Haas, the team enters F1 on the back of several years of racing success in NASCAR. True there’s not a lot of similarity, but Haas’s approach has been a measured one and he’s chosen his partners with care and deliberation. The result is a car of two halves. Front half Haas, back half, comprising of power plant and gearbox from Maranello. Call it a Haarrari if you will.
To further ease their way in, Haas purchased the assets of the failed Marussia team, bringing them a UK base from which spearhead they can launch their entry, while maintaining their headquarters in North Carolina.
The last and rather important piece of the jigsaw fell into place at the end of September when it announced that Lotus driver Romain Grosjean would head up the team, with the number two position being filled by Ferrari’s No.3 driver, the young Mexican talent, Esteban Guttiérez.
In fact the influence of Ferrari seems to permeate the team to a significant degree, a fact that has not gone unnoticed in the F1 paddock. Dark mutterings of it being a thinly disguised Ferrari No.2 team have circulated widely. But then again one has to ask, with the level of complexity involved in F1, is it little wonder that a team looking to succeed should seek the closest co-operation possible in order to become a credible competitor as quickly as possible. The garages are littered with the ghosts of failed F1 team and these past couple of years have seen two disappear.
Another factor that has no doubt played influenced Gene Haas’s thinking has been the non too illustrious race history of F1 teams from across the pond. The first foray was probably it’s most successful when Dan Gurney was the driving force behind the Anglo American Racing team and their Eagle F1 car. Thereafter over the years entries from Shadow, Penske, Parnelli and another Haas team (though not related), have all tried to breakthrough, but eventually admit defeat.
So will Haas have the necessary staying power? Or more importantly have they got the wonga!
Sponsors are yet to be announced and the uncertainty surrounding the longevity of the US Grand Prix in Austin can hardly have helped. But one can’t help think that maybe this team has a better prospects than many to make it through its formative years. However one suspects that it may have to lessen it’s high level of dependency on the Ferrari mothership, particularly if it threatens to upset the status quo of the current teams who are finding life difficult in Formula One.
The Jerez testing session will see the Haas team break cover for the first time and we’ll be watching carefully as their Ferrari powerplant will in all likelyhood have a certain brand of spark plug fitted. After all if they’re good enough for the Ferrari F1 team…