All by himself: Gene Haas pursuing F1 without Stewart
Stewart-Haas Racing founder and co-owner Gene Haas is serious about starting a Formula One team, although he freely admitted it’s far from a done deal.
Haas has applied for a Formula One license with the FIA, the sport’s governing body, and if that license is granted, he will attempt to put a team together in the Charlotte area, which is home to both SHR and the Windshear rolling-road wind tunnel that Haas owns and many NASCAR and Formula One teams alike use.
"The attraction for me is that it’s a sport that just has a legacy to it," Haas said. "You can’t make that up. I find it intriguing — these tracks and the people and the things that go on are just history in the making. And I understand racing a little bit, at least from a NASCAR standpoint."
Haas said he does not want his team to be based in Europe.
"I think, ultimately, we want to be a North American team. … the idea would be if it did happen, to be based here in Charlotte and do the design and engineering here," he said. "I think Americans have the best software. There’s a lot of racers out here that understand how to design things. Let’s face it: we build fighters, we build space shuttles. The technology’s here, there’s no reason we can’t use it to compete in Formula 1."
As for his license application, Haas said, "The FIA has a process. It’s their process, it’s their series, it’s kind of their ballpark. They just do it the way they do it and you have to be respectful of that. If you push it, it seems like it doesn’t work at all. If they approve us, we’re ready to put things in place and go forward, but you have to keep in mind there’s at least two other people applying. So, I don’t want to sit there and think in any way, shape or form, that we have any guarantee of anything."
Haas said he was met with Formula One czar Bernie Ecclestone "two or three times," but that Ecclestone has given him no assurances of getting a license.
"It comes down to, ultimately, he doesn’t know me," Haas said of Ecclestone. "’Can you do this or can you not do it?’ I think that’s probably one of his concerns. You’re talking about starting a Formula 1 team, and he’s seen so many people fail. Maybe he’s thinking, ‘Boy, you guys are foolish to even try this, because so many other teams fail.’"
Tony Stewart, Haas’ co-owner in SHR, said he would not be involved in the Formula One team, assuming it gets off the ground.