Too many teams “throw money” at F1 – Haas

2015 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Gene Haas says he intends to keep his F1 team’s spending under control by buying in as much technology as he can.

Haas told media in a press conference today he will make the most of recent rules changes and Haas Automation’s expertise to keep costs down.

“We have a budget, there’s a lot of unknowns in it,” he said. “We have budgets for what the engine packages will cost and those numbers are well known.”

“I think a lot of the exponential rise in costs is something that maybe was in the past. If you go back to say five or ten years ago where the rules were anything goes and exotic aero packages and exotic wind tunnels, these were the things that were driving the cost up, and then with the recession in 2008 things changed.

“Actually the rules have become much more favourable. There used to be maybe eight different suppliers of engines, you had every car manufacturer building for Formula One. There was no doubt they were spend 2-300 million dollars just to build an engine for a single car.

“Today there’s three current engine supplied and they’re required to make they’re engine packages available. We’re going to take advantage of those rules. We’re going to lean as heavily as we can on partners. Our job is not to reinvent the wheel. Our job is to race cars and win races.”

Haas admitted “I don’t exactly have the numbers” for the costs involved “but the numbers I’ve seen are reasonable”.

“Yes it’s expensive but I think that we’re going to have our own way of doing things,” he explained.

“Too many teams I think just go out there and throw money at it. We won’t be doing that, we’re not going to be throwing money at it. I think that myself and Guenther [Steiner], we both understand racing. We understand that typical businessmen going into this business simply say ‘well I just want the best’. The best doesn’t always mean the best for him it means the best for the guy that’s supplying him and how much money he can charge.

“We’re not going to be foolish like that, we’re going to spend our money wisely. We’ve going to do it with an American flair for design and efficiency and that’s how we’re going to control our costs.

“We’re not going to be a European-led team, we’re going to be an American-led team and we’re going to do it the way we think is most efficient. As a point, I’d like to point out Haas Automation builds machine tools in California, the most expensive state in the Union in terms of taxes, and we’re doing in a place that nobody thought you could build machine tools efficiently, and yet we do that. So we do have precedent in terms of making a good product at a very reasonable price and I would hope that going forward that I can put those same parameters to work in Formula One.

“A lot of people say it can’t be done. Like I say we do things that other people say can’t be done all the time. I’m not afraid of that and that’s something that I’m looking forward to, it’s one of the challenges of trying to run an elite racing team without spending billions of dollars.”

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80 comments on “Too many teams “throw money” at F1 – Haas”

  1. Seems to me like he’s saying “we’re doing it on the cheap”

    1. Seems to me he is saying “we’re doing it smart.

      1. I hope he is being smart about it and proves it @hohum, but it might also turn out that there are reasons for throwing the money at it instead of taking the default component you can buy when talking about a prototype sort of car.

        Also, when talking about that partner, is he, for example, going to beat Ferrari using their technology? Not for long, that is for sure. He might put down equal hardware, and a more efficient team, but that will result in his hardware not remaining equal, or for an affordable price.

        In a way, look at Red Bull; they looked at other engines, knowing that Renault nor they had everything needed for the current regulations tip top okay, but they couldn’t move because they would have been a threat to Mercedes or Ferrari then. That’s one of the ways this might go wrong, and that is only the most positive one.

        Alternatively, Haas just doesn’t manage to get those standard components integrated well enough into a competitive package to make it count. And that is the much more likely case, as @Hairs alludes to as well.

        1. @bosyber, Time will tell, intriguing, is it not.

      2. And teams like Williams and Sauber haven’t thought of that, because they’re flush with money and love throwing it around. Please!! I hope he’s just talking, because if he really means it they may not go bankrupt but they’ll certainly trundle around the back of the field forever. You can’t beat the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull buying parts of the shelf or getting suppliers with no F1 experience to make your parts.

        1. They all talk about joining F1 to win races but that’s not going to happen and they know it. Their goal is to join F1 and beat Marussia or Caterham.

          Caterhama and Marissua (and HRT…) have shown how difficult it is in that they aren’t really much closer to the rest even after a few years experience and a major rule change!

          Joining and following in their footsteps is fairly pointless so they’ve got to try something different.

        2. @velocityboy “You can’t beat the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull buying parts of the shelf or getting suppliers with no F1 experience to make your parts.” oh, you can’t? do a quick search of ‘Garagistas’…

    2. Yup do it on the cheap with all the suppliers based in another continent…

  2. What’s the American for deja vu?

    1. “Deja vu again”

      1. Interesting topic. In the States we quote Yogi Berra, who was a baseball team manager, on the deja vu thing:

        “This is like deja vu all over again.”

        and, to the point:

        “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

    2. Darn diggety. Ain’t that Deejay Vuu, or whatever the frenchies be calling it.

      Sorry, I let myself go there.

    3. By ‘deja vu’, are you referring to USF1, or All American Racers?

      USF1 was a decent organization, but had a bad lead designer (the boss’s son). They never finished the design of the car, so they never finished building it. Even so, they got fairly close.

      Now we have Circuit of the Americas, Indycar is adding standing-starts and road courses, NASCAR is even driving some road courses– It’s a good time for an American team, and a couple of very promising American drivers are coming up in GP2 right now (Daly and Rossi spring to mind).

      1. The only road courses NASCAR has are Sonoma (Infineon) and Watkins Glen. There should be more road courses. All else are ovals. But yes, I too would like to see an American driver (Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi) do well in Formula One. It’s hard enough for an American driver these days to get sponsorship money for a European-based racing series, unless there is a real cowboy for an American company shareholder who has an interest in motor racing and to expand his company globally up against well established European companies within F1 (Santander, Emirates, etc.)

        1. Nick (@grosjean0817)
          15th April 2014, 2:24

          The Cup Series’ only road course races are Sonoma and Watkins Glen, but the Nationwide Series has races at Road America and Mid-Ohio, along with Watkins Glen. They have also raced at Montreal, Road Atlanta, and Mexico City recently. The Truck Series races at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, so road courses aren’t as foreign as you make it seem. The Cup Series should have more than two, but at least Indy Car gives plenty of drivers some good road course experience.

  3. Haas admitted “I don’t exactly have the numbers” for the costs involved “but the numbers I’ve seen are reasonable”.

    This worries me.

    1. This is a man who already knows how much racing costs.

      1. He knows how much American spec series racing costs, where many parts are similar to what you’d get off the shelf in a supplier.

        He clearly has no idea what parts cost to design and build, or how many of them need to be custom parts.

        1. Exactly @hairs – if he wants to win races, they won’t be buying success from a shelf.

        2. @hairs, how long do you give it before they withraw? I give it half a season of effective racing whether that is in ’15 or ’16. From what I have read this man has no idea what he is getting into.

        3. Clearly no-one is taking into account the nature of the very succesful business Haas owns.

          1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
            14th April 2014, 21:24

            @hohum – LOL, so true. Many of the current teams probably have more than a few pieces of HAAS equipment sitting in their factories. :D They also don’t own the best wind-tunnel on the planet, either.

      2. @hohum he has no idea what’s he’s doing. He’s actually doing what he says he won’t do: “throw money at F1”.

        Because, let’s face it. He doesn’t know the sport, he’s never designed his own racing car. He’s just another Vijay Mallya, but with the difference that he’s planning on starting his own team instead of buying a established one. And from America. And at a time when newcomers have it VERY hard. And at a time of major change in the sport… and with little time for preparation…

        I’ll see it as a sucess once I see them on the track. In the meantime, it’s a No-No from me.

        1. Clearly you don’t know much about Gene Haas. Look up Haas Automation and the Wind Shear wind tunnel. Seems to me he is uniquely suited to create a successful F1 team.

  4. Well done Gene Haas, if only Australian entrepreneurs looked at manufacturing in Australia with that atitude rather than complaining about Australias higher wages. Mr Haas may fail as so many others before him have but I suspect he will do better than most.

    1. justrhysism
      15th April 2014, 5:23


    2. I have to go along with the above. I’m seeing a lot of people slating the potential efforts of this man and his team, it may be all talk but it’s the most enthusiasm I’ve seen in years. He’s obviously not just a dude with a lot of money to just throw about and no racing knowledge, sounds to me like the best chance of a new mildly successful new team.

      Wish everyone would give it a break on the doom and gloom for a change, this is a breath of fresh air compared to the last few months of up and down news. When the guy who’s pumping in the money shares the same racing interests as the future efforts of his staff then he’s already miles ahead of some of the out of touch chumps in the background of some of today’s teams. He has a legit business and sporting reason for entering, let’s hope the former doesn’t over rule the latter to early on.

  5. This seems like a really interesting prospect for the coming years. I wish them all the best luck.

  6. I see in these statements the typical American arrogance forever. An arrogance that, however, it has not helped them excel in the world of Formula 1 the highest level of motorsport.

    1. We know a thing or two about road racing over here, its not all NASCAR, but nobody with the financial means and racing knowledge has had much of an incentive to start a F1 team in recent years. You can bet that if Gene has gone this far he will commit 100% to building a team capable of competing with the big boys but its going to take a season or two.

    2. And of course, there’s no arrogance in dismissing out-of-hand someone with a proven track record in both building a business from scratch to a dominant global position, and building a successful NASCAR team. He’s a good businessman with a solid understanding of racing. That puts him ahead of Branson (gone) and Fernandes (going), easily.

      If, as I suspect, he also knows what he doesn’t know, his F1 team should easily break into the top 10 by the second season.

      1. His F1 team should easily break into the top 10 by the second season.

        This, right here is what you call American arrogance…..or ignorance.

        1. Mark in Florida
          15th April 2014, 0:55

          American’s like Haas are generally self made men and having a dead fear nerve goes with the territory. It’s not arrogance it’s confidence.

          1. Whatever you call it, it wont win you races.

  7. Great to see new teams on the grid! It’s beneficial for F1 :) But if your not content in spending “the right amount” of money to be in the game and to be competitive, you better stay in stock car competitions.

  8. This guy already sounds like a character, perhaps F1 has missed somebody like him for a while now..?

  9. I like their attitude, but attitude alone won’t get them anywhere. USF1 had a nice attitude too. Lotus F1 had a nice attitude too. Sauber. Williams.

    Force India, though, they don’t have that nice an attitude, they don’t really shout about what they’re doing or how they’re going about it. But they’re second in the championship at the moment…

  10. As an American I would love to believe in this. However, the odds are stacked so high against any new entrant to the F1 scene. But I feel much less optimistic to hear that his strategy is basically:

    (1) “[W]e’re not going to be throwing money at it” – in other words, do it much cheaper than the big teams; the only chance of making a meaningful impression on the sport as a newcomer is to throw very large amounts of money at it; the odds are so stacked against any newcomer with no history or institutional expertise directly relevant to F1 that spending more than the established players is the only way to catch up. If you just want to be a backmarker and treat your F1 project as a loss-maker getting you some exposure but not any credibility as a race outfit, then fine. This approach could do that, although it will be very expensive and inefficient as a marketing strategy.
    (2) “We’re not going to be foolish” – whenever you hear someone pinnning their strategy on avoiding stupid decisions, you should be worried. All of the existing teams are extremely smart and have a lot of relevant experience and knowledge. They don’t do things foolishly. If you really think it is going to be that easy, that you can come in and show that you are smarter than everyone else, then you are going to be in for a rude awakening.
    (3) “We’ve going to do it with an American flair for design and efficiency” – oh dear…he probably really means it too. A little more humility would be good.

    1. 1) “Not throwing money at “: He’a already got a head start– he’s got access to Windshear (duh, he owns it), he’s got access to some of the best CNC tools out there (his own, which can be written off as “marketing”), and I suspect he’ll spend money on what will win races– don’t expect the Red Bull (or McLaren) Hospitality Center, or a large glitzy showcase team HQ, and he’ll probably hire young designers who have something to prove (but can be hired cheaply).
      2) “not being foolish”: Good advice for any company, hard to follow. Certainly F1 is littered with foolish decisions, such as hiring Maldanado.
      3) “American flair for design and efficiency”: yeah, he probably does mean it. Look up the history of the Haas CNC equipment. If he applies those principles to his race team, good for him.

  11. Robert McKay
    14th April 2014, 20:04

    I’m sure they can do it cheap. But I’m sure that will also mean uncompetitive. The thing with buying in stuff is you get what you pay for.

    I doubt many of the F1 teams like to throw money at the sport for the hell of it. A few of the front runners probably have the money to burn, but most of them, no. Not for a good few years now.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done, but if he thinks that the bulk of F1 isn’t already trying to do it, I think he’s in for a surprise.

  12. Sounds like he’s yet to make up his mind which customer car he’s hoping to use.

  13. Ronald Swift
    14th April 2014, 20:17

    I think if they do it right and recruit properly and do it genuinely American the team could be a very strong runner. I don’t think it will happen over night but give it 5 years and it certainly is possible.

  14. After reading quite a few of Gene’s comments it seems he is taking a very reasonable approach to get going. Like he has said the logistics and all of the small details that you only learn over time is his concern so they want to get on track as soon as possible to start gathering knowledge. Buying as much as you can while staying withing the regulations instead of manufacturing everything is a good move to get that done. Why spend millions on design, tooling, and manufacturing when your initial goal is just to get on the track? This guy knows racing and has deep pockets, who knows if they will be successful, but you can bet they will certainly make a good run at it.

  15. Oh boy, they’re getting into the wolf’s mouth. If he thinks that he can come here, seeking the kind of success like scoring points and who might now, even podiums from time to time, just by going cheap, building something like a spec car… I’ll just wait and see how many dozens of millions he throws away before he marches the same way he came. It might be feasable, but oh boy…. not particularly easy in these days.

  16. Either he’s not telling us or he hasn’t yet done a deal but surely he will have had to nail down his power train provider already? It won’t be long before he has to shell out several million for his 2015 entry fees and nobody would want to do that without knowing who your engine partner would be?

    My money is on Ferrari. If (and it’s a big IF) the a Prancing Horse can get its act together I could see the prospect of a partnership in North America very attractive to the Red brigade.

    1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      15th April 2014, 1:05

      North America is a huge market for Mercedes and Ferrari (the only two real options). Chances are HAAS will go with whoever decides to subsidize their engines the most in favor of some marketing.

  17. I think money is not what will bring performance look at McLaren & Ferrari… what matters is ticking the right boxes in an efficient way. More like Force India & RBR you stick to a good design & keep evolving it.

  18. I think this guy is incredibly naive, if he thinks he can build a team from scratch and be competing at the highest level and winning races, just like “that”.

    They need to be building and designing everything themselves. And even then, if they hired the best engineers.. It could take 5 years to make a race winning car.

    I would love to be proven wrong, but I think he’s going to have his eyes opened in a big way when they find themselves struggling to even make it to testing.

    1. Absolutely agree. I do love the almost arrogant self belief embedded within the American culture……It works well sometimes, but it certainly wont work in F1.
      He is getting ready for an eye opener; and he will NOT like what he sees.

    2. @lejimster82 I agree too. Surely Haas knows that his team will spend the next 5 years circling at the back of the grid, competing with Marussia and Caterham. Thats assuming his team lasts 5 years! You think about teams like Honda failing after years and years of investment.. somehow he’s going to do better?!

      I presume we’ll want to buy the Mercedes powertrain given the current performance levels, but even then he’ll struggle to get into the midfield quickly.

    3. Um, he doesn’t believe they will be winning races just like “that”. Maybe listen to the interview…

  19. F1 is more than a sport, it is a business. It requires a major investment in development, design, facility, the team , and the business structure. It isn’t like Indy Car, where you can purchase a spec chassis and engine and go racing. The investment is to evolve the team over years, and sponsor money alone isn’t enough, just ask all the guys who tried and failed. Mr. Haas is probably a great business man and racing guy, but F1 requires something from the sole, and a whole lot more. And even then you aren’t guaranteed any level of success.

    1. F1 requires something from the sole

      What does the bottom of a foot have to do with F1, other than what’s used to push the pedals down?

      1. Maybe he meant sole as in only? (Sole supplier?) surely not Soul Power, as Haas looks a bit wonder bread for that. ;)

  20. I know he’s busy showing confidence and eagerness and probably doesn’t mean to, but he’s subtly offending “Europeans” (whoever they exactly may be) who apparently A. Just throw money at things to get them going, B. Don’t know about efficiently running a business or team, and C. Are not accustomed to make things work against the odds which gives them (Haas) an edge.

    I think he’ll need all the European friends he can get to get his finances and team working so he may want to be careful with statements such as those.

    That said, I do think this guy knows a thing or two about racing and I’m really glad to see (hopefully) at least one new team make the grid next year. I’m always a supporter of the underdogs, so I’ll probably be cheering them on as well.

    1. I hope they do well, but it does all seem like too much naïveté and not enough humility… I’m half American and I really cringed at the “we’re the most advanced country in the world” line…

  21. Sounds like a recipe for mediocrity – buying in technology will mean that he will be at the mercy of the suppliers, weve seen just such an example with Mercedes turbo packaging. None of the customer teams got wind early enough to really make use of it.

    You add that attitude to the other major components, and youre boxing yourself in to the maximum performance that your suppliers will allow you to achieve.

  22. If there is anything the Americans are NOT good at, it is efficiency. C’mon, they actually thought the Hummer was a decent truck!!

    1. Errr, the Hummer was not built to be efficient. Quite the opposite.

    2. Yup. They still have carburetors in their cars!

  23. Ross Brawn is available,
    Bob Bell is available,
    Stefano Donemicalli is [now] available,

    Three people who have vast expereince in the sport, have proven credentials, and of whom have recently left thier teams because of what is likely to be political reasons and therefore have good motive to want to put one over the commercial gaonts of the sport with a new project. Those thress could easily form the spine of that team. Even if they are based in the USA they could set up a design office in the UK pretty much like Penske still do I believe.

    Deferring to 2106 could allow them to get the mooted Ford power units, or they could be Honda’s second team as I beleive their return mandates.

    Haas F1 could be the shot in the arm and the breath of fresh air that F1 needs right now. Otherwise it will give more ammunition to the sport’s American detractors.

    1. Deferring to 2106

      They’ve got their entry in early then…

      Jokes aside I think a Ford partnership is a realistic prospect. Two American companies working together, exclusively as the Ford works team, rather than having Ferrari engines where there would be little in terms of a relationship between the two, wouldn’t be a bad move, surely? Even if it is a bit down on power, it would surely make financial sense to have a works deal if it’s on the table…

      1. How about Chrysler power in F1, coincidentally identical to Ferarri but with underdog appeal.

      2. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ford return to F1, but any new engine supplier is going to be seriously behind on performance and reliability if this year is anything to go by. It would be more sensible to go with Mercedes if the option is available to them.

    2. Bring in Brawn and Honda. That might actually work.

  24. GB (@bgp001ruled)
    15th April 2014, 4:38

    after reading this I can only say: this guy is completely delusional. completelly out of touch with reallity. doesnt understand F1, has no idea of what it takes to develop a car, what it costs, and thinks F1 is nascar. they wont make it to the grid and he needs a reallity check…

  25. One only has to look at the core competencies of the man undertaking this project to have some level of confidence in it’s success. Specialized construction of a niche product is what manufacturing an F1 car amounts to, and I would think that most most agree that Mr. Haas possesses these skills in spades. Far more so than drinks purveyors or Russian oligarchs. For those questioning the viability of subcontracting much of the process, turn to the recent McLaren road car projects as a high water mark in this area. A car fashinoned from a Ricardo engine (based off a 15 year old Nissan LeMans Design) and a Graziano DCT give a away very little to Maranello’s best. Most of the current teams outsource much of their specialized design and manufacture. It is simply naive at this point to say that it is not the de facto standard in modern engineering and production to lean on suppliers for input. I think Mr. Haas is just being more candid than others in this regard.

  26. Well it’s going to be interesting that’s for sure.
    Some of his answers really make me wonder. Having said that why shouldn’t he play his cards close?

  27. Good grief there’s a lot of negativity in this thread. You realise that if you’re saying that someone like Haas has no hope of succeeding in F1 then you’re also saying it’s a closed book — F1 is doomed.
    I’m sure plenty of people said the drinks company would never make it a few years back too.

    1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
      15th April 2014, 7:43

      caterham and marussia are just surviving. stablished teams like lotus and sauber, too. an this guy thinks he just sticks a PU into a chassis and he will be racing for wins! he also implies all teams are idiots that throw away money just for fun. he is deeply mistaken!

    2. Sadly, that’s actually probably accurate. F1 is dead to new competitors, and using it as a marketing tool is also apparently dead, based on McLaren’s inability to attract a sponsor.

      The drinks company managed to get Adrian Newey and, though we didn’t know it at the time, one of the best team principals in years. They took over an existing outfit which has experience if not success, they weren’t attempting to build from scratch.

      They also had a solid plan. This guy really, really doesn’t seem to have one.

      1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
        15th April 2014, 9:40

        I would have loved to have seen the internet in 1997.

        “Jackie Stewart does not know what he is getting into, he’ll never succeed”. 1999, Stewart win first race after making a profit in every year they competed in F1.

        Please don’t judge.

        1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
          16th April 2014, 18:48

          they could test 24-7 in those days! we are not judging: we are just staring the facts!

  28. Lotus have had success on a limited budget so it can be done. Toyota really demonstrated money can’t buy success in F1.

  29. Kinda ironic that a company that actually manufactures CNC machines plans to buy off the shelf parts. The other teams are probably using Haas CNC machines to build their own custom parts.

  30. I can’t believe how much negativity is being thrown at Formula Haas on this site. There a lot of people who just don’t like the prospects of being beaten by Americans or something and a lot of people are grossly underestimating the manufacturing and research capabilities he already has. His wind tunnel is more advanced than any other team in F1 and he already owns it and makes profit from it. Every other F1 team already has Haas Automation products in their factories, its not like Gene is going into this blindfolded. They won’t be on the podium in their first season but they could become a force to be reckoned with, and I hope they do.

    1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
      16th April 2014, 18:51

      when time shows how completelly wrong you are, please post an aknowledge to this fact.

  31. I think F1 has always been designed to be hard for new teams to enter and succeed at, and Haas knows it. What prestige would the series have if anybody could just come in and succeed at it in fairly short order with fairly reasonable money?

    Sure the odds are stacked against any new team, but I’m sure Haas is a very smart man with some very smart people around him and has likely been considering this for a long time. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s been an F1 fan for a long time.

    Someone above mentioned that if the likes of Mac can’t get a major sponsor what hope has Haas got, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some big American entities that would love more global exposure through Haas and F1.

    Ultimately he’s a grown man, with big money, big dreams, big connections, is engrained in racing, is motivated, and has the green light from F1 to proceed. Who is anyone to stand in the way of his journey at this point?

    He may never do much in F1, but I get the impression he’s going to have a blast trying. There are never any guarantees. Just ask RBR, Ferrari, and Domenicali. They’re engrained as it gets, and what has that guaranteed them?

  32. If he hasn’t started with the design of the car he won’t make the 2015 entry as current F1 teams are already designing their 2015 cars.

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