Ousted Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali could continue his Formula 1 career with a role in the sport’s newest team.
Gunther Steiner, a former Jaguar and Red Bull chief, is now heavily involved in the Haas Formula project, with NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas having secured a two-year license to enter Formula 1, beginning either in 2015 or 2016.
The latest reports from Italy, where Haas will have its first car manufactured by the chassis maker Dallara, suggest that 2016 is now the most likely debut date for the new American team.
“We’ve got the option to start in ’16 if we think it is not doable in a good, professional way for ’15,” admitted Steiner.
The Italian reports also said that Haas officials are set to travel to Maranello to meet with Marco Mattiacci, the new sporting chief at Ferrari, Haas’ likely ‘power unit’ supplier.
Haas will rely on their “technology partner” for more than just a turbo V6.
They will also outsource the “transmissions, KERS systems, suspensions, steering wheel. All of those things are going to come packaged to us,” he revealed.
“So our main thing is just focusing on the construction of the aero and chassis and getting to the races,” Gene Haas said.
Having not yet turned a wheel or fired a spark-plug, Haas already has critics. Juan Pablo Montoya said recently the team is “crazy” to base the team at an extension of its NASCAR facility in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
Other Formula 1 veterans agree with the outspoken Colombian.
Former McLaren driver John Watson said that with Dallara to build the cars in Italy, “Why base yourself in North America when everything has to be flown from Europe to North America to be assembled to be transported back for a European season?
“I would imagine you’re already starting on the back foot by basing your team in North Carolina,” he told Sky Sports.
Another former driver, Johnny Herbert, said the rate of parts development in Formula 1 also means an American headquarters makes little sense.
“The updates are a big part of what Formula 1 is about,” he said, “and that’s something they’ve really got to think long and hard about because I think it would be a miscalculation basing [themselves] in America.”
Haas, however, also plans to have a ‘satellite’ operation in Europe, while Steiner explained that having a main headquarters in the US is made possible due to Formula 1’s logistics.
“The cars this year went from Europe to Bahrain for the test,” he said, “then they flew direct from Bahrain to Australia, from Australia direct to Malaysia, then to Bahrain for racing and now they’re on the way to China.”
Steiner said update parts can then be flown by the team straight to the race locations.
“It doesn’t make a difference if you come from America or Europe in that sense,” he explained.
Haas does, however, acknowledge the critics, adding that the perception of likely failure will have been fuelled by the USFormula 1 debacle of a few years ago.
“I’m sure most people are betting that we will fail,” he admitted. “That’s why it’s going to be successful because if we don’t fail, then we’ve done something that other people haven’t.”
And an ideal tool to help stave off failure would be a highly experienced Formula 1 figure, like the former Mercedes and Ferrari chiefs, Norbert Haug and Stefano Domenicali respectively.
“I think now (Haug) is basically doing DTM commentating, and Stefano – I have no idea what he’s going to do in the future or if he has figured out something,” said Steiner.
“But I’m sure we will speak with him, and never say never, because they are both good people and they’ve been around a long time and their experience, for sure, has got value.” (GMM)
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