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Danica Patrick driving for Gene Haas’ F1 team? Don’t bet on it

Apr 14, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

Samuel Deeds 400 At The Brickyard - Practice Getty Images

Today’s press conference that formally unveiled Gene Haas’ new Formula One franchise was relatively light on details.

Outside of the mentioning of preliminary talks with Dallara on a chassis partnership, there was no idea given of which engine supplier the new Haas Formula squad would align with.

Furthermore, neither Haas or team principal Guenther Steiner made any indications on who was going to drive for them in 2015 – or 2016, if the team opts for more time to build themselves up.

Shortly after Haas received entry into the Formula One World Championship, rumors began to swirl in some circles about the possibility of Danica Patrick jumping to the globe-trotting series.

Before shifting full-time to stock cars in 2012, Patrick raced in the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2005 to 2011, earning one win and seven podium finishes in that span.

But if Haas’ comments this morning from North Carolina are any indication, we can probably assume that Patrick will continue her NASCAR exploits for the foreseeable future.

When asked if he would consider putting Patrick in an F1 car with enough sponsor interest, Haas said he didn’t see how she or any of his other Sprint Cup drivers – Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart – could make such a prospect work.

“I don’t know too many drivers that could be successful from going between NASCAR [and F1], and I wouldn’t expect any of our current lineup of drivers to want to be able to do that,” he said. “That would just be almost – it would be impossible to really accomplish that and survive.”

Noting the “grueling schedule” that NASCAR has and the different sets of disciplines, Haas feels that Formula One drivers would have a tough time driving a Sprint Cup machine and that the inverse would be true as well without lots of preparation.

He gave special notice to the high-tech steering wheels of an F1 car as an obstacle for any NASCAR driver that’d be willing to go to F1.

“What intimidates me the most is the [F1] steering wheel,” Haas said. “On a Cup car, you’ve got a round wheel with a button on it. In a Formula One car, you’ve got buttons on the front, on the side, in the back, paddle shifters – you don’t learn that in a day. So I think the thought of just jumping into a F1 car to a Cup car would be very difficult.”

For his part, Busch has said that having reached his mid-30s, he’s long past the point of being a competitive driver in F1 himself.

However, the Outlaw – who will race for Andretti Autosport in the Indianapolis 500 as part of an attempt to run both that and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on the same day – has said he’d be up for an F1 test session.

The night-and-day differences between NASCAR and F1 have also led to questions about how Haas’ effort on the stock car side would benefit from his F1 project.

In touching on that subject, Haas noted that there would be a lot for Stewart-Haas Racing to learn from Haas Formula, particularly in aerodynamics.

“Formula One teams are much more into the aero packages, especially when it comes down to the things that you wouldn’t think about like brake ducting and radiator intakes and how the air comes out the back of the wing and so forth,” he said.

“These are things that NASCAR teams are just starting to touch on now that the bodies have been very much regulated in terms of how the air goes over them.”

Haas also said that many of the Stewart-Haas crew members would likely use Haas Formula as an opportunity to gain new ideas.

“We have a lot of team members that work on the NASCAR side that have an interest: ‘How does Formula One work?,'” he said. “They’ve never even seen a Formula One car. So I would think that this is gonna spark an interest – ‘Yeah, look at how they do things, there’s gotta be something I can learn.'”

“We’ve got a lot of smart people at Stewart-Haas Racing that are constantly looking for new ways to beat our competitors and I can’t think of anything in Formula One that would detract from that.”

  1. givemethehighgear - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    She should drive an F1 car only if the F1 team isn’t serious about winning.

  2. techmeister1 - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    The more I hear from Haas the less likely it appears that he really understands the magnitude of the F1 challenge.

    As far as drivers there are plenty of talented F1 drivers available. The smart money would be on an experienced and successful F1 driver who is getting pushed out by younger drivers. An experienced competitive driver could help Haas F1 a lot.

    The only way I see Haas being successful in F1 is if he buys the Lotus F1 team. With a $400 M annual budget they can bet in the top three most of the time. That would provide the education Haas F1 needs before jumping into actually building a car – if they could even get an engine contract.

    • indycarseries500 - Apr 14, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      It’s already too late for that, he’s already spent too much to get his own license.

      As long as it’s not de la Rosa or Kovalainen, these guys have had enough chances and underwhelmed at every one, especially Heikki.

  3. worknman24hours - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    This is already a done deal.

    If Danica can get the right lap times-even close.

    Her presence on the team would be worth a billion dollars money to fund the team for several years.

    Yea, Billion-with a B.

    I’d love to see Danica Insane ( she’s been quiet for while now) back in an open wheeled race car especially trying to keep up with all the lightning young men of F1.

    Danica at Monaco-you got the courage to dare those walls to kill you every lap,girl?

    You could put another super fast guy next to her and really give F1 the fits.

    But Haas knows this will be the most expensive losing effort he has ever put in.

    Having Danica onboard makes the advertising money worth that effort.

    Haas corp has their hands full now just making that effort not look exactly like the last fiasco U.S. team that died on the runway.

    Winning?

    You want to win?

    Get a U.S. car company ( hint-Toyota sells in the U.S.) to make the engines for you.

    Or at least to license someone like Cosworth to build the power units to F1 specs.

    F1 is only worth the effort if you can get a lot of other peoples money on board.

    Danica ( or another female racer just as good with the press-who I haven’t seen -so far) is definitely a part of that process.

  4. goldensabre - Apr 23, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Patrick would be a disaster in F1. She’s too old to be a rookie. She was not a contender in IndyCar and has not shown any improvement in racing NASCAR stock cars.

    She won’t be competitive, she doesn’t have the skills, she will be buried in the massive learning curve of racing’s premiere division, and she certainly doesn’t have the experience to be a development driver. Rent one of last year’s cars and take her to a track to see if she could make even the 107% cut-off in a car that made the field with other drivers.

    Sure, she is very personable and her face and personality can sell a lot of soap. But this is F1, not Sprint Cup where her team — co-owned by Haas — can buy engines and chassis from a championship shop and cruise around a lap or two behind the leaders raking in sponsors’ money.

    Haas’s comments about, for example, learning about aero in F1 and applying it to NASCAR’s cookie-cutter sedans is so ridiculous that it makes me wonder if he actually has any idea what F1 is and what a team even looks like inside. F1 is about originality, innovation, technology, and constant development. NASCAR is what it is, and I follow it, but F1 is almost fighter jets on wheels, and running on 4 tires is about all the 2 have in common. And Danica hasn’t raised any eyebrows in NASCAR.

  5. adamlucas9999 - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    I don’t think Haas is this stupid, Danica is a great marketing tool in NASCAR but F1 is all about the team scoring points to get a piece of the series revenue, both drivers must be consistent and score points, she can’t score points in NASCAR how is she going to score points in F1???

  6. joshuaratz1 - Jun 8, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Danica, do yourself a very big favor. Forget the rumors, ignore the critics, and focus 100% on what you have on your plate now. Not what you are going to do in 2015, just forget it. You have had a dismal 3 weeks since Kansas. Great practice, bad race in Pocono, half decent race in Dover, great practice, bad race in Charlotte which ended in an engine failure. That’s what I’m focused on. All these rumors – they’re blowing smoke somewhere and with 15 years left in your career there’s one thing left to do and that’s just drive, just drive, and diagnose the car so you are ready to race in the Top 10 and stay there.

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