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Gene Haas: Avoiding mistakes made in NASCAR helped strong F1 arrival

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Gene Haas says that lessons learned from his NASCAR team’s early struggles helped him enjoy a successful arrival in Formula 1 last year with his eponymous operation.

The Haas team made its F1 debut in 2016 and ended the year eighth in the constructors’ championship, exceeding expectations and claiming a stand-out sixth-place finish at its very first race in Australia.

The immediate success of Haas’ F1 operation was in contrast to his early days in NASCAR, where his team regularly ran as a backmarker for a number of years.

“Our first year in NASCAR was a really arduous task. We always ran at the back and we did it for like six years straight and we never had much luck,” Haas said.

“We started in NASCAR in 2002 and the competition for drivers and crew chiefs was intense and we just struggled.”

Haas said that the lessons learned from his early NASCAR struggles put his F1 team in good stead for its entry last year.

“Everything we learned that we did wrong in NASCAR we avoided in Formula 1, and the most important thing was immediately seeing what works and what doesn’t work,” Haas said.

“We learned that the hard way in NASCAR, so when we went to Formula One our focus was not so much on how we did things, but who we did things with.”

Part of this learning process saw Haas move away from the plan to build everything in-house, instead preferring to strike a technical partnership with Ferrari.

“There’s no doubt about that because when we first started in Formula 1, the whole idea was that we were going to make everything ourselves,” Haas said.

“We were going to be the traditional constructor where we were going to make our own chassis, suspension, components and aero.

“But it was a massive undertaking, so we reversed course a bit and said: ‘OK, who could we partner with?,’ because this is such a monumental task there’s no way that we can accomplish this in the eight or nine months we had to do it.

“So we had a complete change in strategy. That’s when we ended up partnering with Ferrari.”

Video highlights from Stage 12 of Dakar Rally, 2 stages remain

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Thursday’s Stage 12 of the 40th Dakar Rally not only closed the overall standings gap in at least two classes (cars and trucks), two other classes (bikes and quads) failed to get going due to weather conditions.

The full video highlights of Stage 12 will air on NBCSN on Friday at 7 pm ET, but here are some of the highlights from Thursday’s action:

CARS

2018 Dakar Rally: Nasser Al-Attiyah wins Stage 12 of cars

BIKES

 Stage 12 cancelled due to weather conditions

 

TRUCKS

Ton van Genugten edged out Martin Kolomy in Stage of, while Federico Villagra and Eduard Nikolaev both faced an uphill battle to finish fourth and third respectively.

QUADS

Even though the Quads were also impacted by weather issues on Thursday, Ignacio Casale, the 2014 Dakar winner, continues to make his case for a second overall victory in the quads.