Haas leading the race to join Formula 1 in 2015

7 Comments

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that the bid from Gene Haas to join the sport in 2015 is currently leading the way, and is largely dependent on the team’s plans for the next few years should it get the nod.

The FIA confirmed at the end of last season that there was a free spot open on the grid for the 2015 season, sparking interest from NASCAR team owner Haas (pictured left), former team principal Colin Kolles, and Zoran Stefanovich in his fourth bid to have an F1 team.

Of the three, Haas’ project was the most viable from the go as a racing team with facilities is already in place. However, following the demise of the US F1 project back in 2009, there was a great deal of skepticism. Now though, Ecclestone has dropped the biggest hint yet that there will be an American team on the grid next year.

“I think Haas will be accepted,” Ecclestone explained to The Independent. “They have got the money but it’s a question of whether they are going to spend it.”

Following HRT’s exit at the end of 2012, a 12th place has been available on the grid. However, the FIA chose to bide its time and missed the initial date of February 28th to announce who would be taking the place.

Haas spent some time with the FIA last month putting forward his proposal, and said: “They’re pretty intense. They had a lot of good questions. I think what they do is they take that information, evaluate it, make their recommendations to I think it’s the Formula One’s owners association or next group of people, and the process goes on.”

Of course, much of the FIA’s decision depends on the viability of the project. One of the Formula 1’s biggest challenges in the United States is the time zone, given that it is largely Euro-centric sport.

However, what sets Haas’ project aside from the failed US F1 bid is that much of the facilities and finance is already in place. It is not a ‘new’ racing operation, but instead an extended one from his current interest in NASCAR with the Stewart-Haas team.

As a side note, the domain name www.haasf1.com has been registered by Haas Automation.

Although no final decision has been made, Ecclestone’s comments will certainly be encouraging. It is worth taking them with a pinch of salt, though, as the FIA does not have to welcome a 12th team for 2015. If none of the projects are deemed viable, we will remain with 11 teams next year.

Haas certainly seems determined to make it happen, though, and it could work wonders for the sport in the United States as Ecclestone also pushes for a second grand prix to complement the race at the Circuit of the Americas.

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
Leave a comment

Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.