Gene Haas unconcerned about lack of sponsors on F1 car

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Gene Haas is not concerned about the lack of sponsors on his team’s Formula 1 car, saying that they will follow once it has proven itself and the season is underway.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas saw his eponymous team hit the track for the first time in Barcelona earlier this week in testing ahead of its grand prix debut in Australia next month.

The Haas VF-16 carries a great deal of branding for Haas Automation, much as Red Bull does on its car promoting in-house companies, but few other sponsors.

Haas explained that a number of parties are interested in working with the team but need to see a product on track first.

“Well the biggest problem is we don’t have a product yet. We’ve never been on a track, we have nothing to really sell to anybody,” Haas said.

“I think people would be a little bit afraid of going out on the track and just embarrassing your name. If go out there and look bad they’re probably not going to want to sponsor you.

“I’m optimistic that when we go out there we’re going to look professional, we’re going to be able to compete on a level that other teams will respect, and that should make sponsors say ‘OK, there’s a product, we can see it, we can deliver’.

“That should make them feel more comfortable about wanting to sponsor us.”

Haas was asked how fussy he would be about sponsors, with F1 typically boasting more blue-chip and luxury sponsors than the traditional consumer brands seen in NASCAR.

“Obviously you look at what’s on the track today: exotic cars, energy drinks. I think anything that has mass appeal, we would be certainly interested in,” Haas said.

“I think we could do a good job of marketing the product, especially an American product all over the world. There’s a huge audience for Formula 1 in the rest of the world, even more so than just in America.”

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”