Haas F1 has unlikely supporter over customer model

Just before the Bahrain Grand Prix, Williams F1 technical brain, Pat Symonds, registered his complaint over the business model Haas F1 employed to enter Formula 1 on a parts list basis only making the bare minimum required by the FIA and sourcing everything else from Ferrari and Dallara. He felt the team may have obeyed the letter of the law but missed the spirit of the law when entering on the must-produce list.

After Bahrain, some folks were wondering just how many other teams may start raising an eyebrow over their model given that they have leap-frogged many smaller teams and secured two top-6 finishes on the trot.

If you linger on this side of the pond, you’ll get a staunch “Sc***w you!” out American fans and understandably so but I’ve tried to take an unbiased approach to it. Yes, I love the fact that Haas F1 are doing well and as an American, I’m elated about it.

While the past decade has seen F1 pundits claiming that America needs to have an American driver in order to grow the sport in the US. They use Mario Andretti as an example but that dog don’t hunt. I’ve argued that this notion is false. What they really need is an American team and a team that is winning. Mario may have done well and gained the attention of Americans but that was because he was winning and in good teams. That’s when Americans loved the European sports car and were more into road racing. No, what we need is a team that does well and guess what? We have one now and people are talking.

I’m not trying to claim I am a Delphic Oracle here as it seems pretty obvious to me that the solution to Americas F1 disinterest is an American presence in the sports infrastructure not just a driver. No one went ballistic over Scott Speed’s presence in F1. They are getting amped over Haas F1 though and I think it’s terrific.

So who else is excited about it and think Haas F1 did it the right way even though they could be challenged by Haas? Red Bull Racing, that’s who.

“To be honest, I don’t think it is a bad thing,” team boss Christian Horner said. “It demonstrates that you can be competitive without having to employ 600 people and spend 200 million Euros.

“When you look at the problem of some of the teams, while there will be all the arguments that it is not in the DNA of F1, it far better to have healthy racing, and giving drivers like Grosjean the chance, than being consigned to the back of the grid.”

I think he speaks very frankly and conveys what many Americans feel but how does the rest of the world feel about it? Haas F1 jumps in and passes Force India, Sauber, Manor, Renault and McLaren? IF you’re not American, do you feel the same as Horner? Are you excited about Haas F1’s success so far and do you have any issue with the way they entered the sport? Do you feel they are dangerously close to running afoul as a customer car?

Hat Tip: Motorsport

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Paul KieferJr

When you consider that it’s only three teams making engines instead of 11 or so, Horner’s right there. Will Haas make its own engine? Possibly, if it’s just down the road. Until then, if he’s willing to buy it and Ferrari’s willing to sell it, more power to him. How many civilian car companies do you know that make their own cars with only their own parts manufactured by themselves? I’d be willing to bet the answer is “none”. Why should F1 be any different? It is the American way, after all.

Richard Piers

4 engine manufacturers, about as many as ever.

Bob Clarke

Seems to me that early-on Haas was talking about this model for entering the sport as only the beginning of their aspirations. Did they not say they intended to make the operation more sophisticated as time went on? When you consider Haas makes machine tools, making their own stuff probably isn’t going to be a problem for them.

Tim C.

Gene Haas is a successful business man. He looked at the options before him and choose to do it a certain way. And, the way he choose was legal according to the rules. Is he close to having a “customer car”. I say no based on the rules currently in place. If the rules had been different, we might not have Haas F1 on the grid this year. All teams will push the limits of the rules as far as they can. That nothing new in F1 or any form of racing for that matter. If teams are not pushing… Read more »

darkalman

I want to start off by saying I’m a big fan of independent constructors, they’re what makes the sport interesting. And I side with Bernie on one of his big talking points which is manufacturer teams will come and go whenever it suits them, but the independent teams really form the core of F1. But with that being said, if you look at the performance of the most recent team entries I think that Haas is very much justified in his approach. In his teams first race they scored 4 times as many points as Manor, Caterham and HRT made… Read more »

Richard Piers

You praise the independents and criticise the manufacturers and then proceed to damn several independents. F1 has always had a core and always had those of all grades who come and go. Full of rogues, dreamers and chancers part of its fascination

MIE

The chassis may have been made by Dallara, but it is a Haas design. That is the important distinction. However, certain elements of the design will be constrained by the Ferrari components that are used (suspension pic up points for example). Haas have made a much more impressive start than other recent entrants to the sport, but then they didn’t enter on the expectation of a $50 million cost cap. I still have concerns about how they can develop the car (and design next year’s to the new regulations) when they are split over three countries. They have shown that… Read more »

partofthepuzzle

“The chassis may have been made by Dallara, but it is a Haas design. That is the important distinction.”

Can you provide the source for that info? I was under the impression that Dallara designed it but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

MIE

The technical regulations mandate that the constructor owns the intellectual property of the listed parts. If Haas didn’t own the design then they would be in breach of the regulations.

Of course they may have employed Dallara personnel to do the design work, but they are now Haas employees.

stammer

I think there is a lot more to Haas than Ferrari technology. The whole outfit is geared to motor racing and competing at the highest level. The are the most experienced outfit to enter F1 from scratch. For new teams, the key to being competitive is all about where you shop for your components. Pat Symonds and Co are too deeply entrenched in the past. Haas researched his market and bought smart. Is there any other way to go in the 21st Century?

Thierry Dubus

Pretty much agree with these comments. Haas looked at the rules and entered accordingly. Good for him and for us ’cause the way F1 is these days (close to negative camber, I saw my first GP -Canada- in ’73…) it needs a little bit of shaking up and surprises.
I would like to see perhaps the rule written in a way that they have their beginner entry in this manner and perhaps they have to evolve over a period of 3 years (?) for some parts so they don’t have to start from scratch.

Richard Piers

Why do you need any more rules at all ? Quite enough already.

jiji the cat

Bernie says…
” We need more rules.”

Richard Piers

Absolutely no problem at all, F1 has done similar things from its very early days. I was one of those who at first thought Haas was giving himself a huge mountain to climb, but I believe his US “base” is just a front principally for his US operations and that F1 is based in Europe which is where it needs to be. I have now apologised. As for the critics, it’s sour grapes Williams are selling their bits and pieces to Manor who get their engine from Mercedes as, of course, do Williams. McLaren, not I believe critics, got their… Read more »

Mat

Agree with the comments on here. I generally respect Symonds and put this as a rarely unfair comment from a guy who’s probably very frustrated that his team’s start to the season has been the opposite of Haas’. Since when have teams focused on the “spirit” of the rules, anyway! It’s a sport built on finding every advantage possible by exploiting opportunities and loopholes in the rules, something that makes the sport so interesting, and something that Symonds has done well. Moreover, you have to applaud the genius strategy of Haas, a strategy built on pragmatism and a long term… Read more »

92gsr

Romain Grosjean is a top level driver.

jiji the cat

Of course he is. And it’s good to see him doing well. Good drivers are fast, but great drivers evolve, learn, adapt, and hone. All traits that RoGro shows.

jiji the cat

screw everyone else. Haas have got it right. Pat Symonds aside, I think there are many sour grapes in the paddock. Glad Horner has backed them.

Schmorbraten

I’m not a US citizen, but the rules are the rules, and if Haas beats Williams in their second race although Williams has decades of experience, that’s Williams’ fault and nobody else’s. They work and race under the same rules as everybody else. TBH I didn’t follow the whole Haas thing until the Australian race was underway, because of the USF1 project, but good on them, without reservation, it’s absolutely terrific to see the US enter F1 at all, and then you come and you do it in style. The people that are responsible for the Haas car’s aerodynamics, chassis,… Read more »