When Gene Haas went looking for personnel to staff his new Formula One team, set to debut in 2016, he didn’t have to look far for one very key individual.
Haas literally had to take just a few steps out of his office and down the hall to find the first vice-president of special projects for his new team, namely, veteran NASCAR crew chief and engineer, Matt Borland, according to a report by Motorsport.com.
“Formula One is certainly a lot more technical and I think Borland is looking for the challenge,” Haas told Motorsport.com.
Plus, Borland, 43, will have more than a year to make sure everything is in the right place when Haas’ F1 team – the only one to be based in the United States – hits the racetrack in 2016.
“It’s going to give us an opportunity to take some of our NASCAR crew people and say, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity to learn something new, can you apply that to Formula One and vice versa?’ Haas said. “The Formula One people from Ferrari are also interested in how we do things.”
In a sense, Borland, who has spent the last seven seasons working for Haas, is going back to his first love of open-wheel racing.
A native of suburban Detroit, Borland first made his mark in the IndyCar world in the 1990s, working in engineering and simulation roles, as well as briefly serving as race engineer for driver Mark Blundell.
Borland moved to Team Penske in 1999 to work in engineering and simulation on the Sprint Cup side and eventually became Ryan Newman’s first crew chief in the Cup series.
For five seasons, Newman and Borland combined for 12 wins, 37 poles, 54 top-five and 83 top-10 finishes. They also finished in the top-10 in the Cup standings in the first four of their five-year run together.
Borland left Penske Racing after the 2006 season, had a brief stint at Michael Waltrip Racing before joining Haas’ then-fledgling Haas/CNC Racing organization in 2007.
He and Newman were reunited in a driver-crew chief role in 2013, Newman’s final season with SHR, resulting in a win in the Brickyard 400 and Newman becoming the sole representative of SHR to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup (finished 11th).
“He knows how to get things started, and he knows how to put people together,” Newman said of Borland. “He did the exact same thing last year with a team that took us to a Brickyard 400 trophy.
“He is the guy I would want if I was doing that to do that. He’s very hands-on and knows how to do everything. At the same time, it’s a huge task so I hope he has some good people around him.”
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