Johansson: Haas has done its homework ahead of F1 entry

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Former Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson has praised Haas F1 Team for ‘doing its homework’ ahead of its entry to the sport in 2016.

Haas is set to become the first American team to race in F1 in 30 years when it lines up on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix in April.

However, a great deal of scepticism does surround the arrival of a new team in F1 following the difficulties faced by the most recent trio of entries in 2010.

HRT raced until 2012 before collapsing, whilst Caterham lasted until the end of the 2014 season. Manor (formerly Marussia) is the only remaining ‘new’ team on the grid.

Haas is looking to buck the trend thanks to a technical partnership with Ferrari, and Johansson believes that this is a very smart move.

In an interview on his website, the Swedish racing veteran wrote about the idea of customer cars in F1, and why he thinks they should be re-introduced. Customer cars are banned in the sport, but technical partnerships are permitted.

“Well, I don’t understand the attitude of some the smaller teams,” Johansson said. “They say customer cars will ruin Formula 1 and that they have 300 people employed and what will happen to them?

“At the same time they’re scrambling for every penny because the cars are so expensive to make now and they can’t afford to pay their people or their suppliers in many cases.

“If I was Manor and I was offered a Ferrari I’d jump at it! Who wouldn’t? Their budget would be less than it is now. The car would already be developed and sorted and you could run the team with probably 60 people. It just makes business sense.”

Johansson praised Haas for engaging in a technical partnership with Ferrari, pushing the boundaries of working with a bigger team ahead of its entry to the sport next year.

“They’re pushing it as close to that as the rules will allow currently,” Johansson said.

“They’ve done their homework, they’ve listened to the right people and it’s the way to do it.”

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”