Merc interested in Haas-style partnership

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Back in the day, when Sir Frank Williams wanted to enter Formula 1, he bought a chassis and an engine and went racing. Since then, and even today under his daughter’s direction, the team have remained adamant that F1 teams should be constructors and they’ve been against customer cars and teams for years now.

That wasn’t a fine line position but Gene Haas has challenged that notion with his “listed parts” F1 team in which they have purchased nearly every part the FIA regulations would allow from Ferrari and this has meant the team hit the ground running scoring points and avoiding the very costly learning curve and development cycle that it would normally take to even achieve a level of performance to score a single point, let alone multiple points.

That kind of relationship between Ferrari and Haas F1 is something Mercedes say they’d be keen to engage in with either of their customers—Force India or Williams. While Claire Williams says her team isn’t interested and wishes to remain as an independent constructor, Force India could be an interesting option as a cash-starved operation with an owner on the run from tax penalty allegations. Merc boss Toto Wolff said:

“We have seen that the system between Ferrari and Haas has worked, it has worked for both,” said Wolff.

“It’s an interesting revenue filler for Ferrari, and in terms of synergies, there is a lot you can work on, and it has functioned for Haas.

“They are a very competitive team without having built on a legacy, or without having built on knowhow that would have taken years and years to collect.

“So far the system is very successful, and of course our thinking goes in that direction – whether it is Williams or Force India to collaborate.

“But we are in the middle of a tough fight for this 2018 championship, so we need to prioritise.”

Williams is also working on a much lower budget than the top teams but they’ve prided themselves in being a tidy business that balances the books, employs hundreds and remains a sustainable ecosystem for racing. Force India is another matter completely and while they may be operating on similar budgets as Williams, they also may be looking for future opportunities if they make sense.

For me, Force India needs to consider its long-term options and with an owner fighting legal issues and the team still managing to perform well and find sponsors, they are a perfect candidate for serious investment and strategic partnerships with Mercedes. What Force India achieves with their smaller budget is to be admired and I think the talent on hand is something Mercedes would look favorably upon. It could be a good relationship in the long run.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Carrizojim

I keep seeing listed parts as the key to Haas success, but I like to think that this team, with over 1000 NASCAR starts, two championships and close to 50 victories, has a lot to do with it. I don’t think they would be a whole lot lower on the grid than they are if they made everything themselves.

subcritical71

I would say Haas very much know how to go racing. Are there things to learn in a new series? Definitely! Haas is also a good businessman and saw that by going with listed parts he would save a bit of money and have a faster path to where they want to go. Look at the environment at the time they did this. Caterham and Manor were struggling to pay the bills and just barely make the grid. Pouring loads of money into their programs and still went belly up. I think the Haas model has worked out great for… Read more »

sunny stivala

Both Williams and Force India started off into F1 with a complete car that they bought out, a car made by somebody else. Haas started in F1 with bought out parts in accordance with the rules, the lot he bought out doesn’t constitute a complete car. Some time ago Force India and mclaren attempted to go the same route as to parts supply including technical transfer from mclaren to Force India. During the past years Williams undertook the same route (parts and technology) supply) with different team as mclaren attempted with Force India. In technical terms I don’t see anything… Read more »

Richard L Bunce

As a fan of F1 in the sixties, independents driving factory cars added more competitive cars to the grid… the more Lotus the better! Improving Force Whatever’s performance and improving their business model (if not business owner) so that they stick around is good.

jakobusvdl

I thought that the expectation is that Haas enter F1 under the Listed Parts regulations, and then once they are established and stable, they would increase their manufacturing and technical input to increase their competiveness. And gradually they’d become a full manufacturer?
If the expectation is a listed parts team will always stay in that mode, no wonder the likes of Williams are against the idea.
Its looking like we could end up with Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, Renault A and B teams, and the independents unable to complete with either because they’re either outspent, or undercut.

subcritical71

You have a point there. I like the idea of the Listed Parts approach to get more players on the field, however, there should be some milestones in place to get a team to full manufacturer status. Say, gradually increase the percentage that is bought else where over a set time period. Although, thinking about it, I could see that realistic time frame being in the 5 to 10 year range. The hard part would be, you get all these parts from, say, Ferrari. You build your car around these parts. How do you design better parts than Ferrari did… Read more »

jakobusvdl

It certainly would be a headache, I guess the transition would have to be mandated in regulations, otherwise the change might be very slow to happen. Though, I’m sure once a listed parts team get a few designers into the team the challenge for a team principal will be holding them back from ‘improving’ on the design of anything from the supplier team.