Gene Haas reveals more F1 details to NBCSN; offers Kurt Busch an incentive for winning the Chase

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In an exclusive interview with NBCSN, Gene Haas has revealed more details about the progress he is making with Haas F1 Team ahead of its entry into Formula 1 in 2016.

Back in April, the FIA confirmed that it had granted a berth to Haas for next season, only for the NASCAR team co-owner to postpone entry for an extra year to give the team more time to prepare for its debut.

This week, it was confirmed that the team had struck a deal with Ferrari for an engine supply, but Haas explained to NBCSN’s Will Buxton that the partnership will go beyond that.

“We’re going to try to get as many parts as allowed by the FIA,” he said. “It’s going to be suspension, it’s going to be I think wheels and chassis parts and transmission, engine. Everything down to even the steering modes.

“One of the prior concorde agreements was that the big teams could help the smaller teams, so we hope to get a lot of help from Ferrari to tell us what direction to go in.

“Then we’re gonna have a lot of other people to help us build those parts. Dallara will probably [be] one of the sub-contractors. Our goal at least initially is to try to rent, buy whatever we can to go racing because that’s what we’re here for.”

Haas also confirmed that he would be looking to set up a European base in England that would work with the team’s home in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

“Now the next step is that we have to get our base together,” Haas explained. “Obviously Ferrari is based in Italy, we have our facilities in Kannapolis.

“We’re probably going to need to have some kind of facility in the UK, in the southern part where all the other Formula 1 racers are. So, just the logistics of putting all of that together is the next challenge.”

One of the biggest mysteries about Haas F1 Team is who will be driving the car in 2016. American racer Alexander Rossi confirmed to MotorSportsTalk back in June that he had held some talks with the team, but Haas remained coy.

However, he did reveal that he has told NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, who races for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, that he can test the car if he wins the championship this year.

“Everybody I talk to is interested,” Haas said. “I was talking to Kurt Busch last week. He was interested. He said if he wins the NASCAR championship, if could he have a ride in one. I said “for sure!” if he wins the championship.”

Busch has expressed his excitement for Haas’ project in the past, and although his chances of winning the championship do look slim, he could enjoy a brief test in the car at some point.

“I said he can get in the car!” Haas said, laughing. “I tell you, an American driver in a Formula 1 car in Europe, that would just knock it out of the ball park.

“I’ll give it to you: Kurt Busch could drive one of these cars.”

For Haas, there are definite similarities between NASCAR and the F1 community, but he is excited to be taking on a new challenge.

“You know racers are racers,” he said. “I don’t think they’re really that much different to what we have in NASCAR, except everyone speaks different languages here.

“I could go racing next year. Unfortunately from what I’ve heard from other teams, that’s a real thrashing to get done that fast.

“This extra year, we’re gonna spend it just basically putting the nuts and bolts together and getting things organized.”

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”