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Report: Gene Haas set for meeting at Lotus next week

May 10, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

Gene Haas is set to visit Lotus F1 Team’s base at Enstone in England next week with a possible view to buying the outfit, according to a report broken by Sky Sports today.

The NASCAR team owner won the race to secure a place on the grid for 2015, and confirmed his plans for Haas Formula at a press conference last month. Former Red Bull technical director Gunther Steiner is poised to work as team principal, and the initial plan was for the team to be run from the United States, with a support base being set up in Italy due to possible links with Ferrari and Dallara.

However, with at least four of the teams facing financial uncertainty, it has been questioned why Haas does not buy one of them. That way, he would already have a workforce in place and some world class facilities, which he could then tailor to his liking.

It would also negate the problem of running a team from the United States for what is a largely European sport. Nine of the 19 races on the 2014 calendar take place in Europe, with just two in North America.

Lotus has been blighted with financial problems over the past two years, and this has resulted in a steady exodus of staff that has seen the team downsize by 20%. Most notably, team principal Eric Boullier left at the beginning of the year to join McLaren, and star driver Kimi Raikkonen walked away after going unpaid for much of 2013, and joined Ferrari.

The financial problems have been eased by finance courtesy of Pastor Maldonado’s backers, PDVSA, but the future is still uncertain.

Haas has previously been keen on making it a truly American team and starting from scratch, and despite many critics including Johnny Herbert and John Watsom, he is confident that he can make it work.

“As time goes on, we’ll learn,” Haas said last month. “We’ll figure it out, and the car will eventually evolve into our own car – and quite frankly, I think we can beat the Europeans at their own game.

“I’m sure most people are betting that we will fail, and that’s why it’s going to be successful, because if we don’t fail, then we’ve done something that other people haven’t. And that will definitely help sell Formula 1 in the U.S.”

  1. techmeister1 - May 10, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Buying Lotus would be a good means to learn the ropes.

    Haas like many before him grossly underestimates what it takes just to get on the grid with your own car, let alone be competitive. If they were winning every single Indycar and CRASHCAR race for three years straight yeah then I might believe that they have a leg up on the U.S. competition and a better than avaerage chance in F1. That however isn’t the case at all so learning as you go is fine but the performance requirements are constantly moving from race to race. What was competitive at the last race can put you in 10th spot in Spain and it’s the same all season long, season after season.

    I wish haas well but I hope he doesn’t make success impossible by assuming they know more than the thousands of engineers in F1 at the factories and in the car companies. Without those resources Haas will end up a backmarker if they get to the grid with their own car. All one has to do is look at the struggles Toyota, Honda, Ford and many others have had in F1 to get an understanding of the monumental technological challenge involved.

  2. worknman24hours - May 10, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    tech,Haas has clearly been listening to those saying save your money and buy into an existing team.

    So I don’t think the Haas has underestimated anything YET.

    I would’nt really be surprised if Haas takes a really detailed look around, does the numbers three or four more times and then returns his team license to Formula One and says,

    “After a fourth really good look around,I don’t need to piss money into a bottomless hole, I can find all the racing series in America where I can do that ten times cheaper.’

  3. than357 - May 11, 2014 at 5:40 AM

    While it might be less expensive in the initial outlay – problems with the team may lie deeper than just financials. Maybe pick it up and gut it would be the only real choice Haas has.

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