File this in the “out of left field” and “we’ll see if this actually happens” categories, but judging by Gene Haas’ pursuit of Kurt Busch last summer, you can’t rule anything out with his ambitions or desires for his race team.
A German report from Auto Motor und Sport identifies Haas’ Haas Racing team as wanting to submit its own entry for the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship. The FIA has opened a selection process for a new 12th team.
According to this report, the team would be run in-house in Charlotte by former Red Bull team manager Guenther Steiner, with cars initially built by Dallara and engines and transmissions from Ferrari. Haas’ operation does have some of the necessary elements to run an F1 squad, as he is the world’s largest manufacturer of CNC machines, and is also near the Windshear wind tunnel in Concord, North Carolina.
The other two teams identified by the AMS are Colin Kolles’ team and the mysterious StefanGP operation. Kolles has been in-and-out of F1 with the Jordan/Midland/Spyker/Force India and HRT teams, while StefanGP had applied for a grid position in 2010 but was denied.
If you’re skeptical about the American presence, you have good reason to be. The USF1 saga of 2009 into 2010 saw Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson attempt to set up a Charlotte-based squad to enter the 2010 F1 championship, but for a variety of reasons, primarily down to a lack of resources and an unfinished chassis, the team was forced to withdraw before ever turning a wheel.
Haas, Tony Stewart’s partner at Stewart-Haas Racing, is co-owner of the four-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with Stewart, Busch, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick as drivers. He is not related to Carl Haas, who ran the Beatrice Haas Lola F1 team in 1985 and 1986, and was also co-owner of one of North America’s most successful race teams, Newman/Haas Racing with the late Paul Newman.
UPDATE, 2:30 p.m. ET: Haas confirmed the report. Yes, he’s interested.
“We have responded to the FIA’s ‘call for expression of interest’ regarding a Formula One entry on behalf of Haas Racing Development,” the statement read. “We respect the FIA’s evaluation process and will share more details in the coming weeks.”
And now we begin the wait for more.