Gene Haas and the new Haas F1 Team have their eyes set on their inaugural 2016 Formula One season with high hopes. The team has confirmed their cars will be loaded with Ferrari power units and other undisclosed chassis components. What the team has not confirmed is who they will load into the seats.
The choices they make are crucial for not only the team, but for the small, but rabid American fans who are following. The team has stated it will announce their driver lineup in September. Now we can only predict and speculate until that time comes.
The partnership of Stewart-Haas has yet to disappoint it’s fans in NASCAR with #4 driver Kevin Harvick leading the drivers championship and Kurt Busch cementing a spot in the series Chase format. Once the new Haas F1 team announces its driver lineup, it too should not disappoint spectators in the Formula 1 championship. With their inaugural season starting in less than eight months, team principal Gunther Steiner has said there is no rush to assess the driver market.
“The market is getting clearer and a lot of people are getting into contact with us now. We are in no hurry, because we have to see who is on the market, who is doing good and who wants to move.” Steiner is a former team Red Bull managing director.
In these early stages it’s important to take time, but the world of Formula 1 is fast paced and time is always ticking. Haas F1 is going to be the first U.S. constructor in the modern Formula1 era. Gene Haas has stated that his main interest in Formula One is to compete on a global stage and sell his CNC machines to a more global market.
However, Haas has an opportunity to plant a seed and watch it grow by applying interest in F1 stateside. It’s essential Haas F1 gets the concept of an American F1 team correct to American fans if they want this seed to blossom.
The team has already announced its will use the former headquarters of Marussia based in the United Kingdom as a satellite location for Europe. It’s essential to be in close proximity to other teams like Mercedes, Lotus, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams.
Formula 1 is a cottage industry in the UK. It’s more advantageous to be near your opponents for many reasons: Parts suppliers, software developers and human beings in the sport. It’s no coincidence they’re almost on Silverstone’s lawn. The car Haas will be producing will be assembled in North Carolina with Ferrari components such as the suspension, the power unit, wheels, chassis parts and transmission. You could say it’s going to be the SF16-T.
Haas has said that they won’t be Ferrari’s “B” team. They could do far worse than being a Junior team to Ferrari thus giving them greater access to technology and the ability to grow. Ferrari, who are presently edging closer to Mercedes on the grid in 2015, are now showing their will to reform and win.
For Haas F1, their goal is to aim for “mid-grid” in qualifying. Why? That’s a goal that can be accomplished midway through the 2016 season.
For Haas to be called an American F1 team, it would like to have a native US driver. Haas have said they are keen to hire an American driver, but they want to focus on experience as it is truly vital in Formula 1. The offering is slim.
The name of Alexander Rossi has been mentioned more than a few times, but his lack of actual developmental experience may hurt him. I’ve always been a fan of Alexander Rossi, a former GP2 driver. He’s an experienced open wheel driver being a former Marussia and Caterham test driver thus being allowed to drive in certain Friday practice sessions.
According to Rossi: “I know that I am ready, but they need proof so I am more than happy to work towards that and to deliver.” Rossi would be their best bet as an American driver, he’s young and has some experience. However, in Formula 1 you need two primary drivers, along with a stable of test and reserve drivers.
Drivers with some name recognition and developmental experience is a must. Adrian Sutil and several others come to mind. Don’t rule out Ferrari exerting influence over this decision as they have a raft of drivers they mentor, but have two test drivers as well. It’s conceivable that Ferrari would offer over one of it’s young guns as a test driver or as a reserve or even as a primary.
Haas could have a better shot than McLaren-Honda had in the first leg of this season. It won’t take a great deal of time to configure a Ferrari power unit, if Ferrari helps, as opposed to the complex Honda unit that is literally being developed this year. Speculation has been on their side, watching the highs and lows other teams have struggled through.
It will be in Australia of 2016 before we actually find out if Haas F1 has done their homework.