Ferrari's Fernando Alonso leads Caterham's Marcus Ericsson during the first practice session at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest on July 25, 2014.
ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images
The new Haas F1 team will not make its debut until 2016, but already the squad is plenty busy gearing up to compete alongside the elite teams of Formula One.
Matt Borland, who was picked by team owner Gene Haas to move from his vice president of competition slot on the Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR team to the new F1 operation, was at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Thursday along with several other team execs. Earlier in the week, the team hired former Budweiser executive Adam Jacobs as its chief marketing manager.
Haas F1 will have a technical partnership with Ferrari and this weekend’s United States Grand Prix served as a perfect opportunity for the Haas management to catch up with their counterparts from Italy.
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Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen said the Haas squad will have some challenges getting off the ground, especially at a time when other teams, most notably Caterham and Marussia are in dire financial straits.
Alonso described it as “very good news” that the Haas squad is launching.
“Especially this race,” Alonso said. “We have two teams less – Caterham and Marussia – so there are some problems in the sport that I hope we can find a solution for, because it’s not normal. Every year there are two or three teams that have economic problems. If new race teams are coming, we just have to find a way to help them to have a sport that is attractive for everybody.”
Alonso said success will take a while for Haas to achieve, at least if history holds true.
“It depends on their investment. It depends on how they approach the project,” Alonso said of how long Haas will take to get up to speed. “We saw projects like Red Bull, they’ve been dominating for the last four or five years, that they arrived in 2004, I guess. They bought Jaguar at that time and they took six or seven years to win the championship. It required a lot of investment and a lot of desire to win.
“There are other teams that arrived recently and they were 3 or 4 seconds (per lap) off the pace, at the back of the grid,” said Alonso. “So I think for Haas, it will depend how they approach the project, whether the commitment to Formula One will be for the long term. Unfortunately in this sport, the money (equals) the results of tomorrow.”
“It will not be easy, like we’ve seen in the past with new teams coming in,” added Raikkonen. “But they have a lot of knowledge of motor racing and obviously F1 is new to them, but I’m sure they’ll put the effort in and they will have the backing to make a proper run of it.”
NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who had Borland as his crew chief at Team Penske and worked with him at SHR, said Friday that Haas picked the right man to lead his F1 effort, but that Borland has big challenges ahead of him nevertheless.
“He is the guy I would want if I was doing that to do that,” Newman said of Borland. “He’s very hands-on and knows how to do everything. At the same time, it’s a huge task so I hope he has some good people around him.”