While much of the focus around Stewart-Haas Racing’s media availability (OK, the primary focus) centered on the team’s four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, team co-owner Gene Haas also took the time to answer questions from assembled media about the Haas F1 Team’s updates as it’s a little more than a year out until the team’s scheduled debut.
Official news in recent weeks has been limited surrounding Haas F1 Team, although a report emerged a little more than a week ago that Haas is expected to use the former Marussia headquarters in Banbury as its UK base.
Haas told reporters, including NBC’s Dustin Long, things are about where they should be given the timeline.
“We have a little under 50 people right now,” Haas told reporters. “There’s about 50 in Kannapolis, and roughly the same amount in the UK and same in Italy right now.”
The driver lineup is of course going to be something to monitor. American Alexander Rossi has spoken publicly of his desire to race for the team, while Ferrari – Haas’ engine technical partner – has newly signed Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne as the team’s reserve and test/development drivers in Maranello.
“The driver selection will be at the end of summer,” Haas said. “We’ll need to look around, see who’s available. There could be a new crop of young drivers. Big teams want guys in their 20s. Some are getting concerned about bringing up someone else too fast.”
Haas expects F1 to be a learning process, but he’s hoping some of the team efficiencies and protocols from the Cup side can transfer over to the new F1 team.
“We’ll try to,” Haas said. “I find the whole thing very intriguing. It’s very technologically advanced. The way they deal with everything. It’s all so impressive to begin with, it’s all intriguing. We can learn a lot with Formula 1 and apply to our NASCAR team.
“In NASCAR, we run twice as many races. I’m hoping some of the efficiencies will gives us an advantage.”
Haas said his F1 team will operate out of Ferrari’s wind tunnel rather than his own one in Charlotte. F1’s regulations stipulate only one wind tunnel can be utilized.
Lastly, Haas tempered expectations – but said the team will likely be better than some think it will.
“I won’t say we’ll do great. But we should be more competitive than people think,” he said. “We’re associating with Ferrari. We’re putting our facilities in place. We’re getting our trailers, haulers.
“It’s one thing to have a car and driver but you need the support to make it work. We’re gathering the spares and infrastructure.
“We’re looking good, and we don’t want to be putting things together at the last moment.”