Apr 3, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT
Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that the bid from Gene Haas to join the sport in 2015 is currently leading the way, and is largely dependent on the team’s plans for the next few years should it get the nod.
The FIA confirmed at the end of last season that there was a free spot open on the grid for the 2015 season, sparking interest from NASCAR team owner Haas (pictured left), former team principal Colin Kolles, and Zoran Stefanovich in his fourth bid to have an F1 team.
Of the three, Haas’ project was the most viable from the go as a racing team with facilities is already in place. However, following the demise of the US F1 project back in 2009, there was a great deal of skepticism. Now though, Ecclestone has dropped the biggest hint yet that there will be an American team on the grid next year.
“I think Haas will be accepted,” Ecclestone explained to The Independent. “They have got the money but it’s a question of whether they are going to spend it.”
Following HRT’s exit at the end of 2012, a 12th place has been available on the grid. However, the FIA chose to bide its time and missed the initial date of February 28th to announce who would be taking the place.
Haas spent some time with the FIA last month putting forward his proposal, and said: “They’re pretty intense. They had a lot of good questions. I think what they do is they take that information, evaluate it, make their recommendations to I think it’s the Formula One’s owners association or next group of people, and the process goes on.”
Of course, much of the FIA’s decision depends on the viability of the project. One of the Formula 1’s biggest challenges in the United States is the time zone, given that it is largely Euro-centric sport.
However, what sets Haas’ project aside from the failed US F1 bid is that much of the facilities and finance is already in place. It is not a ‘new’ racing operation, but instead an extended one from his current interest in NASCAR with the Stewart-Haas team.
As a side note, the domain name www.haasf1.com has been registered by Haas Automation.
Although no final decision has been made, Ecclestone’s comments will certainly be encouraging. It is worth taking them with a pinch of salt, though, as the FIA does not have to welcome a 12th team for 2015. If none of the projects are deemed viable, we will remain with 11 teams next year.
Haas certainly seems determined to make it happen, though, and it could work wonders for the sport in the United States as Ecclestone also pushes for a second grand prix to complement the race at the Circuit of the Americas.
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