Gene Haas speaks out on American drivers in F1 and saving cash for 2022 car revamping

Gene Haas F1 American
Peter Fox/Getty Images

AUSTIN, Texas — As home races go, Sunday was just like the rest of the season for Gene Haas and his F1 team, the only in the series owned by an American.

A clunker.

Haas F1 finished last again with its two cars, driven by rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. They were so far off the pace that they were two laps down when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton raced past them to the finish.

Yet team owner Gene Haas seemed anything but disappointed in Sunday’s results at the Circuit of the Americas, or the 2021 season as a whole.

Haas said in an interview with The Associated Press that he has saved money by not dumping cash into his cars ahead of sweeping changes in car regulations next year. Haas Automation, the personal business of the team owner, has been booming – which was the whole reason he expanded into the international series.

His CNC machine manufacturing company, headquartered in Oxnard, California, was considered one of the largest in North America when Haas was only the co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR team. Now that Haas is in F1, Haas Automation has established a global footprint.

So Haas isn’t bothered that F1’s surging popularity in America hasn’t boosted his fledgling team. And don’t bother suggesting he should hire an American driver just because the team owner is from California and owns a race shop in North Carolina.

“That’s probably a very sensitive and frustrating point for me,” Haas told AP during the U.S. Grand Prix weekend. “Everybody says, `Well, you should have an American driver.’ But the thing I don’t understand is why there isn’t more big-time sponsorship for an American driver?

“It takes millions and millions of dollars. They need a benefactor to help an American driver race in Formula One. For all the talk about it, there’s no one that’s ever stepped up to do that.”

Haas hasn’t shown much interest in developing an American driver and this season has turned his cars over to a German and a Russian.

Schumacher comes from racing royalty and is the son of German seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher. Mazepin comes from Russian money; his billionaire father, Dimitri, is a major shareholder in Uralkali, the Russia-based fertilizer company that is Haas F1’s major sponsor.

The Haas cars are indeed red, white and blue – but the scheme of red, blue and white mirrors the Russian flag.

The team was mid-pack when Haas acquired the assets of the failed Marussia team and put a pair of cars on the grid in 2016. But the team has collapsed the last two years and Haas is the only team that hasn’t scored a point in 2021.

Gene Haas said he was surprised F1 raced the abbreviated 2020 season in the pandemic, and that coming car changes made it prudent to save money instead of tweaking old engines for a little bit of speed.

“You could spend $10 million to $20 million and maybe move up one position,” Haas said. “It wasn’t worth the money. We just decided we’d put all our money in the ’22 car.”

The car development for 2022 has been encouraging, he said.

“The good thing is that because it’s a whole brand new format, nobody really can copy anybody else,” he said. “All 10 teams are going to have 10 unique cars. We’ll see who lucks out.”

The current lack of speed has been matched by lack of experience behind the wheel. Mazepin – derisively referred to as “Mazespin” by fans because of his numerous on-track gaffes – and Schumacher have spent the season bumping around the back of the grid, getting in the way of the leaders and bickering amongst themselves.

Their boss doesn’t view it as a wasted season.

“Hopefully they’re taking advantage of (the season) rather than lamenting the fact that they are slow,” Haas said. “They’re getting good experience in racing Formula One, because there’s a lot to be said by just racing with these guys.”

Formula One’s return to Texas last week came as the American appetite for F1 has exploded. The race weekend drew more than 350,00 fans over three days, with 140,000 in attendance for Sunday’s race (outdrawing the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway).

Yet the Haas team trailer was mostly quiet at the far end of the paddock, well away from the bustle surrounding Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari. Even Williams and Alfa Romeo, its neighbors in the paddock and near the bottom of the standings, had more action.

There’s money to be made with success on the track. Fan interest in the U.S. seems to be on the rise and the Liberty Media-owned series will add a second American race next season in Miami. There are hopes of someday adding a third.

Zak Brown, the American head of McLaren, predicted last week that F1 teams could soon be worth billions, on par with NFL, NBA or Premier League Soccer clubs.

Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner said the team has been late to capitalize on F1’s surging popularity in its home country and that it’s time to “get more involved with people from America.”

“I think we neglected that a little bit, in the beginning when we came in, because Formula One grew very quickly in the last two years,” Steiner said. “In the beginning, when we started it was a lot smaller and now it seems . why we didn’t see that coming?”

Haas, however, resists classifying Haas F1 as Formula One’s “American” team because that ignores his European staff and business efforts. And being an American team makes no difference to Haas Automation, which ultimately pays Gene Haas’ bills.

“Most of my team comes from England, Italy … Europe,” Haas said. “We’re just basically trying to run a team in the most efficient and best way we can. We’re not really worrying too much about whether it’s popular with the American public or not. That’s kind of how I look at the business side of it. It’s a great way to help us a lot with brand recognition in Europe.”

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston


Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart

The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s