Haas looking for experience

  • Last Updated: June 11 2014, 11:25 BST

Gene Haas is targeting a current Formula One driver to spearhead his entrance into the sport in 2016.

Gene Haas: Looking for a driver
Gene Haas: Looking for a driver

The American is F1's newest team owner, with Haas Formula due to take their place on the grid in less than two years' time.

After being granted an entry by the FIA earlier this year, Haas is at the start of what will be a long, tough road towards becoming a fully-fledged F1 marque.

Although the 61-year-old was in the paddock over the recent Canadian Grand Prix weekend learning the ropes, doubts are naturally swirling as to whether his plans will come to fruition.

Haas at least has a motor-racing pedigree given he is one half of the successful Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR team.

That, though, almost counts for nothing given the millions of pounds required simply to start up in F1 these days, never mind compete.

One key aspect Haas is currently considering is his driver line-up, and unsurprisingly there are a number of names being linked.

"We're looking for an American woman driver!" joked Haas initially, although that is not beyond the realms of possibility as America's top female star Danica Patrick has been mooted.

More seriously, speaking to Press Association Sport, Haas added: "Seat number one is obviously going to be taken by an existing F1 driver who has experience with the current engine package and chassis, and then position two is open.

"Obviously, it would be great if we could put an American in there. That would just be the home run - an American team with an American driver in a European series. That would be phenomenal.

"But it's not essential. We're very flexible on that. Realistically, the number one thing is to make sure we don't embarrass the sport, we arrive prepared and are ready to race.

"We don't want to run around at the back forever. We want to be able to start these races and improve every race we go to."

One of the biggest keys to success will be the power unit supplier, with Ferrari the top pick ahead of Mercedes and Renault.

Haas and Guenther Steiner, Ford's former motorsport technical head who is due to become team principal, were primarily spotted at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve chatting with Ferrari's Marco Mattiacci.

"We've spent a lot of time with Ferrari, talked a little bit with Mercedes. The engine supplier is half the equation here, and we're still working on that," said Haas.

As to when he intends to announce a partner, Haas replied: "I would hope we can do that in the next few weeks.

"Even though we are not racing until '16, a year is going to go by pretty quick, so it's important to have a relationship with somebody we can get started with.

"Until we have a signed contract, it's open with anybody."

Plans to save money and become a customer team have been shelved, by order of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Although customer teams are not allowed under current F1 regulations, the topic has been high on the agenda of a number of key meetings of late.

Ecclestone, however, has steered Haas away from such a notion, which is one reason why he is now starting up in 2016 rather than next year to allow him more time to build his cars.

To assist Haas, from next year a particular regulation due to be relaxed will allow teams to buy more parts from other teams than they are at present, rather than have to manufacture them themselves.

It is another step along the way towards the introduction of customer cars, although it remains some way short given what a team in its own right still has to produce.

"I was told by Bernie Ecclestone in no uncertain terms, 'You have to be the constructor'," said Haas.

"We ultimately realised we have to build the car in the United States if we are going to be a US-based team.

"We have a facility out in Kannapolis, North Carolina, where we run Stewart-Haas Racing, and we are building a new building next to that one, and we have a wind tunnel.

"So we have 50 per cent of what we need to start building our own cars, and the ultimate goal is to do that. That's the way we are going to go.

"But that list of parts we can buy, as it increases, we want to be the team that takes advantage of that rule.

"We will try and buy as much as we can because it just costs too much to make all these intricate little detailed parts."

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