Andretti encouraged by Haas F1 project, has doubts about Vegas race


American racing legend Mario Andretti feels that Gene Haas’ proposed entry to Formula 1 will do a great deal of good for raising the sport’s profile in the United States, but has doubts about a second temporary race in Las Vegas or New Jersey.

Haas F1 Team is set to debut in 2016, with a new facility being built for the project. As the sport continues to enjoy a boom in the United States, getting an American team on the grid will only prolong and encourage this.

“It’s great that you have someone that’s making the commitment that’s for real,” Andretti said when asked by MotorSportsTalk about the Haas project. “I think Gene Haas has a reputation in our sport, and if he’s making the financial commitment, then why not? That’s great. I wish him well.

“I hope that his formula and way about to do it is working. He’s certainly doing it a bit differently, but the fact that he’s doing it is positive. I mean, why not? More power to him.

“He’s certainly a credible force and reputable. I hope his pockets are deep enough!”

Andretti also spoke about the possibility of a second grand prix in the United States, feeling that a temporary race at a venue such as Las Vegas or New Jersey would not be successful.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said referring to the mooted race in Las Vegas. “You hear all of this. We heard about New Jersey. New Jersey was announced with a 10-year deal with the governor there. They asked me to attend that event and I wouldn’t because I didn’t have a guarantee. When I talked to Bernie, I said: ‘Is this 10-year deal for sure?’ ‘Well, you know…’ ‘Okay, that’s all I need to know.’

“You have to be very careful about these things. The fact that we’re talking about it is good to some degree. Personally, I’d love to see another permanent facility somewhere – if it’s going to be on the west coast, which is what would make sense – a permanent facility and not another temporary event.

“When you have a permanent facility, this facility keeps earning and keeps working the day after Formula 1 leads. You have a chance to make that business model work. A temporary event? I’m not sure you can make financial sense. It’s too expensive to field a Formula 1 race for just one weekend.

“Unless they know something we don’t know, unless the hotels are chipping in and being part of it… I’m sure the hotels want to make money, they don’t want to lose money. It will be interesting to see what develops there, but I’m always skeptical until I see the real thing.”