What was Gene Haas thinking with Haas F1?

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If I’m honest, I have no idea what Gene Haas is saying in this AUTOSPORT article. The reasoning, after just half way through his first season in Formula 1, is the very thing everyone (me included) were saying at the beginning…just buy an existing team like Sauber or Manor. NOW he comes to the conclusion that free freight, tickets and financial prize money eligibility is a good thing?

“Bernie was always saying ‘why don’t you just buy an existing team?’, which was actually a better idea because there were only 10 teams at the time so economically it would’ve been a lot more beneficial,” Haas said.

“Bernie was probably right because there are so many advantages when you’re a top 10 team.”

“Not only do you get ‘column A’ money but you also get freight and airline tickets for the team,” he said.

“There is a lot of financial help for the teams once they’ve been established.”

Having bought Manor’s old building in the UK for a European HQ and taken advantage of the “listed parts” loophole of F1’s regulations, he is now feeling like buying an existing team would have been better? I think everyone, including Mr. Ecclestone, were telling him that. I have to assume Guenther Steiner was saying much the same thing.

If they would have bought Manor or Sauber, they would have had a full operation with the capacity for chassis development and fabrication and in Sauber’s case, possibly some wind tunnel time and more. Sure, they may have paid more up front but in the long run they would have been eligible for prize money right off the bat but as it is now, even their points scored in the first two races will gain them nothing this year as far as prize money is concerned.

Would he have needed all of that infrastructure for car fabrication and development? Well, according to him, last week, he may have. He feels Ferrari haven’t done enough to help Haas F1 with their development and are playing it too conservative with the “listed parts” program for fear the FIA will deem their efforts illegal.

I said it back then, he would have been well advised (and apparently was) to acquire Sauber—a Ferrari acolyte team—and then used the listed parts program and also be eligible for prize money and could even have developed their own chassis.

Had they done that, they would be getting millions dollars at the end of this season for the points they scored in the first two races of 2016. They would have had free freight and personnel travel covered. I did that math at home with an abacus so I’m perplexed as to how Gene didn’t see that.

In fact, I assumed Gene knew something I didn’t and that’s why he chose to roll his own so to speak. I assumed there was a gray area in the “listed parts” strategy they wanted to use that would have made it more marginal had they bought an existing team. I assumed that a man who runs a complete and terrific NASCAR operation would have worked the numbers at the same time as he worked the big picture. It seems I may have been wrong.

I have a lot of time for Gene and the Haas F1 team and couldn’t be more elated that they are in F1 but I am befuddled by his revelation here. At this point, the “listed parts” program has been watched very closely by the other teams and the FIA as well, I assume, as other who could be interested in joining F1. It has its issues as Gene clearly suggested last week with the lack of focused development from the host manufacturer.

The symbiotic relationship is only as good as the host’s health and if it struggles or is under pressure, the symbiotic organism is going to feel the pain. Gene is also at a point where he needs his car to develop and make incremental improvements over the course of a season and if it isn’t happening, then the “listed parts” program is exposed as a good way to get in to F1 but not a good way to stay in F1. Eventually Gene will need to develop his own chassis if he wishes to continually develop in areas that he feels are deficiencies and that’s difficult to do with the current relationship and chassis-by-others 3rd party supplier.

It all depends on what Gene wants from F1 but it also brings up a serious question—what about the raft of massive changes for 2017? If you think Ferrari are already working on their program, you’d be right but how much of their 2017 engineering and gray matter are they sharing with Haas F1 in order to have Dallara build a chassis and what if another group decide to come to F1 and use Dallara? Would Ferrari be comfortable sending all their keen chassis engineering help to Haas only to send it to Dallara in order for them to absorb the nuances of chassis design and offer that to other teams? It gets a little gray doesn’t it?

In the end, Gene is going to have to build his own chassis and work with Ferrari in the best possible way but doing so would point directly to the fact that it would have been better to simply buy and existing team—something I, and apparently everyone, was telling them at the beginning.



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Junipero Mariano

If he had purchased Sauber in 2014 or early 2015, I think it would come with the expectation that he’d be racing that season, and thus be locked into Hinwil’s modus operandi for the duration of the season. He would have the team and the facilities that would have to run the season out until Haas’ management group had made the changes to fit his vision of what the team would be. Remember it took all of 2014 for James Allison to make the car he wanted to for Ferrari. Haas decided to make his own car his own way… Read more »

peter riva

There is another thing possible worth considering: What did Haas expect to get out of F1 that would help his other racing ventures. It could be F1 is a loss-leader for him – the real money (unless he had silly expectations of being a cash winner in the first two seasons) may have been the technology (data acquisition procedures have been mentioned) spin-offs back to the USA operation.
Just a thought.

Don Thorpe

What he expected was world wide visibility for Haas Automation. F1 one has nothing to do with NASCAR,


Sauber is too far away from the action in Switzerland. He should have taken over Caterham. They had debts but it would have paid off by now. Hindsight is 20/20 despite it being foresight for the rest us back in 2014.


When it all started I was of two minds, yes buy an existing team and make it your team if you want in on the F1 game. The bottom line is when you buy a team you buy all the BS that goes with the team. All the screwed up vender relationships, all the dumb decisions of the past that shaped the team in this way or that. Its not a clean slate its an impossibly dirty slate. If your Gene Haas your looking at firing a lot of people to clean that slate, and the new boss, with stars… Read more »


NC: I think your comment that Gene knew something that the rest of us didn’t was accurate then, and is still accurate today. His comments in the article notwithstanding, I suspect there is still a lot to the story and the the Establish Team money is only a part, and perhaps not the major part at that.

Negative Camber

I have to think that’s the deal too. He’s a very sharp character and he does play the “shucks, we’re just happy to be here and trying to figure out where the coffee maker is” type of comments but you don’t build a company like does by being a ho-hum guy. He obviously said this for effect but in reality, there must be reasons beyond the , “gosh, we probably didn’t do this right” statements.

Bob Clarke

Trust in The Gene. The Gene has a plan. He seems a “plan your work”, “work your plan” kind of guy. I also think if Haas succeeds, we’ll also see Chip Ganassi’s organization in F1.

charlie white

Hindsight is 20/20. Logically, it made sense to buy an existing F1 team than start one from the ground up. But I think he made the right decision by going his own way. At the moment, his team is soundly beating both Sauber and Manor in valuable Constructor points. That may not be the case if one of those two became HaasF1. He and Guenther probably expected to catch suspicious glances from the other teams(especially Williams) but so far, no one has openly complained about Haas or its position as “constructor”. If, through some fluke or miracle, Haas score a… Read more »

Richard Piers

Whilst I don’t doubt he took a look at the other options, I am sure the kudos that he has gained from doing his own thing way exceeds the downside. Had he bought in I doubt he would have gained the same initial results and he would certainly not have got the same publicity, that is wholly his, which I suspect is even greater in the USA than elsewhere. He now has the very difficult job, that everyone underestimates, of getting near the top of the pile in F1, it is now that the real hard work starts. Good luck… Read more »

Steve Wyant

Hass is not in F1 for F1’s sake. He’s in it to promote his Haas Automation company worldwide. Getting in this way sends a message to his potential future customers of his machine tools that Hass will put in the effort to give his customers the very best product possible.


If he wanted to promote his tools, he should manufacture as much as possible himself. Even if the use of carbon fibre is abundant, there are still a lot of metal hinges, rockers etc. to be machined on an F1 car.

Zachary Noepe

Maybe what he was thinking was ‘I bet I could have almost 30 points by the midsummer break by starting a new team, but if I buy one of these loser teams everyone’s trying to pawn off on me I’ll have one point, and if I buy the other team of institutionalized failures I’ll have zero points by summer break’

And of course, if that’s what he was thinking, he was right.

Meine Postma

And seen that Haas himself is publicly doubting his decision it must mean that it must not have been what he was thinking ;-)

Zachary Noepe

I would bet on his craft before I bet on his honesty.


Its ridiculous that F1 right now is designed so that it wont Benefit new entrants to come, unless they take over an already existing team
We need more teams, more drivers, more competition about being there

Seing 10-11 teams, with 2-3 of them strugling every year, doesnt really suit the sport or make it appear healthy og sportsmanlike, since only the top 2-3 teams Can really win

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