gene haas

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 22: Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during final practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 22, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Gene Haas targets moving ‘a position or two’ up F1 field in 2017

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Gene Haas believes that his eponymous Formula 1 operation can build on its successful debut campaign and move “a position or two” up the constructors’ table in 2017.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas entered F1 in 2016 with the first American team in over 30 years, and saw Haas F1 Team finish an impressive eighth in the teams’ standings.

Given the struggles of the most recent batch of new teams in F1, most were skeptical about what Haas could achieve, but the American businessman is pleased to have proved his critics wrong.

“There was a huge amount of skepticism at first. I think a lot of people certainly thought we’d run in the back the entire season,” Haas said.

“We did have a lot of support from NBC Sports and all the guys on the broadcast. I think by the end of the season we silenced the critics and, by now, most people see us as a serious competitor.”

Haas has now set his sights on lifting the team closer to the top five in 2017: “If we can do a little bit better because our business model in Formula 1 allows us to operate more efficiently, we might be able to move up a position or two.”

Haas will field a changed driver line-up for 2017, with the retained Romain Grosjean now being joined by ex-McLaren and Renault racer Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen was targeted by the team for a seat in 2016, only for Haas to sign Ferrari reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez instead.

“Magnussen was actually one of our original candidates. We talked to Magnussen and thoroughly went through his racing resume and we were very impressed,” Haas said.

“Near the end of the [2016] season, we asked Kevin if he might be available and he said he was. On the second to last race weekend of the season, we made our decision and brought him to Haas F1 Team.”

Haas’ new F1 car, set to be called the VF-17, will make its public on-track debut on February 27 during the first pre-season test in Barcelona.

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

SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 02: Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico drives the (21) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during final practice for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit on April 2, 2016 in Sakhir, Bahrain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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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.”

First test, first points Steiner’s highlights of Haas F1’s debut season

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Romain Grosjean of France drives the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track  during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 20, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
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Guenther Steiner has picked his highlights of Haas Formula 1 Team’s debut season as being its first test in Barcelona and first points on debut in Australia.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous F1 operation onto the grid in 2016 after many years of planning, becoming the first American outfit on the grid in 30 years.

Haas debuted the VF-16 car at pre-season testing in Barcelona in February before making its race bow at the Australian Grand Prix.

Romain Grosjean starred on debut to take sixth for Haas in Melbourne before going one better two weeks later in Bahrain, where he finished fifth.

Ahead of the final race of the 2016 season next Sunday, team principal Steiner picked out his two favorite moments of a memorable debut year for Haas in F1.

“There are two moments that stand out: going out in Barcelona for the first time with a new team during testing and then going to our first race and scoring points,” Steiner said.

“It was like: ‘Wow, did we do this?’ We’ve had our ups and downs, and we will have more of them, but there have been a few moments that all the team members will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Haas’ approach has been different to that of other teams, working closely with technical partner Ferrari in the run-up to its debut season, with Steiner putting its success down to Gene Haas’ vision.

“Thanks to Gene Haas, who had the belief in the idea that we would have to do it differently because more of the same would not work,” Steiner said.

“Gene’s wish was to find a different way. We did and it worked out. I think we surprised a lot of people and I think a lot of people admit it, and I think we are perceived now as one of the 11 F1 teams.

“Few would think that we are only in our first season, which is more than a compliment and that is what we want to be.

“We want to be respectable for our own sake and for the sake of F1. I think people look at us now and say they are part of the show.”

Grosjean secures point in Haas F1 Team’s home Grand Prix

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 21: Romain Grosjean of France and Haas F1 walks in the Paddock after practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 21, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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AUSTIN, Texas – After an eight-race scoring “drought” since the Austrian Grand Prix, the 10th race of the season, Haas F1 Team broke its longest pointless scoring streak to date with a welcome and perhaps surprising return to the points in today’s United States Grand Prix in Austin from Circuit of The Americas.

Although Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez started only 17th and 14th respectively in the pair of Haas VF-16 Ferraris, they both made it to the fringes of the top 10 early before resuming in their sometimes eternal position of 11th.

Gutierrez fell out after Lap 17 with an apparent brake failure, but Grosjean pressed on the rest of the race. Once Kimi Raikkonen retired in one of the factory Ferraris after one of his tires hadn’t been secured properly, that promoted Grosjean into 10th and a World Championship point, a welcome result in his 100th Grand Prix start.

Grosjean noted that after a tough weekend for the team, down on downforce and with some aero parts breaking off on Friday, the point was a welcome result.

“It didn’t go too bad. Bit of a messy first lap. We did an aggressive strategy. It worked pretty well,” Grosjean told NBCSN’s Will Buxton.

“I’m lucky a few cars retired in front of us. We needed to finish the race. Great to score points in front of the home crowd. It’s been a long time since we’ve scored points!”

After the run of 11th-place finishes, Grosjean said scoring points late was a huge confidence booster for the team.

“Yeah it’s a great thing to score points at the end of the season,” he said. “It means a lot for how we’ve worked. Yesterday he’s not so happy after the performance we had but today he is. Gene’s mother, his sister, and there are a lot of people here. Now I have to watch Talladega and see how our boys are doing in NASCAR!”

Gutierrez, who retired early, was still diplomatic and thankful for the weekend experience.

“Yes it was (brake failure). We think one of the discs broke,” Gutierrez told NBCSN’s Will Buxton. “It’s not what we wanted for a race weekend. Not easy to accept either. Difficult start of the weekend and it was not going to be easy. We went on.

“We did a great qualifying, optimizing what we had. We pushed to the maximum. We got into the top 10 the first few laps. Aggressive strategy. At some point I lost the brakes. Fortunately I didn’t run into the barrier (at Turn 11).

“It’s very disappointing but we have to continue focusing on the positives. I want to thank everyone for the enthusiasm and support all weekend. I’m sorry for all of you who were here to support us and ensure we are doing our best.”

Gutierrez now heads to his home of Mexico City next week, where he’ll race in his first Mexican Grand Prix.

Haas F1 drivers downbeat after rough home qualifying in Austin

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 21: Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico driving the (21) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 21, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Haas Formula 1 drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez were left downbeat after a rough home qualifying session for the American team in Austin, Texas on Saturday afternoon.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas will see his F1 operation race in the United States Grand Prix for the first time on Sunday, having joined the grid at the beginning of the season.

Gutierrez and Grosjean entered qualifying at the Circuit of The Americas hopeful of repeating their double-Q3 appearance in Japan two weeks ago.

However, Grosjean failed to make it past the first stage of qualifying, finishing 17th in Q1. It marked the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix in April that both Haas cars had not made it through to Q2.

“We’re missing downforce and we’re paying the heavy price. We just don’t have enough,” Grosjean explained to NBCSN after the session.

“Low speed is very diffiuclt for us. We had some pieces fall apart yesterday. Today was a good summary of what was yesterday. On back foot from the beginning. Didn’t have the grip.

“Yeah, we should be good on top speed. But the pace of the car is not better than where we are.

“It’s not looking so good for tomorrow.”

Gutierrez managed to make it into the second stage of qualifying, but could only finish 14th-fastest as he also cited numerous difficulties over the USGP weekend so far.

“Obviously hasn’t been an easy start to the weekend,” Gutierrez told NBCSN.

“I couldn’t run my new front wing. There was a crack on the wing. Not able to repair it. We had some certain kind of disadvantage.

“We didn’t think about the result, just pushing the best as possible. Today we did. But we didn’t have tools for Q3.

“We did the best with what we have. I was putting all my energies into qualifying.

“We need to focus. We need to hope for an opportunity.”

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2:30pm ET on Sunday.