BARCELONA, Spain: Gene Haas, the man to bring back an Ameri can team to Formula One for the first time in 30 years, wants Haas F1 to be a launching pad for the sport in the United States.
Haas, a machine tool magnate, already has motor sports experience as part-owner of NASCAR team Stewart-Haas racing.
However, despite international appeal, Formula One has struggled to oust NASCAR’s domination of motor sports in the United States, something Haas is hoping to change.
“I know there are a lot of fans in the USA,” he said at the second day of pre-season testing in Barcelona ahead of Haas F1’s maiden campaign.
“We’re hopeful Americans will stand behind us. We’d like to get more Americans involved in Formula One because it is a great motor racing sport and we’d be humbled to have more Americans support us in this endeavor to bring Formula One back to the United States, he added.
Haas, 63, admitted he needs to create at least a competitive product before bringing other sponsors on board, but admitted expectations for their debut season would be limited to “fighting at the back of the gird” and trying to finish as many races as possible.
Yet, he believes further American investment in the future could see a revolution of the sport’s image and popularity in the States in what has traditionally been a European dominated field.
“Having the car branded under our name is good for our product line, but if the right sponsor comes along we’re definitely going to listen,” Haas said. “I think we could do a good job of marketing especially an American product all over the world because there is a huge audience for Formula One in the rest of the world.”
“American people love sports, they like that competitive edge. They want to have some association with it, so if there is an American team out there and doing something no one else has done before, Americans will be very interested,” Haas added.
Yet, Haas has resisted the temptation to bring an American driver on board with the experienced duo of Frenchman Romain Grosjean and Mexico’s Esteban Gutierrez to take the wheel this season.
“An American driver would be the ultimate aim, but at the moment we want to put the best pieces we can obtain and right now having an experienced driver like Grosjean was the best nut to put on the steering wheel. We want the best possible people, he said.