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Ecclestone says "it is most unlikely" that Haas will join F1

NEWS STORY
26/01/2014

Bernie Ecclestone says he believes "it is most unlikely" that Gene Haas' will get the green light to join Formula One according to an article by Caroline Reid in American motorsport magazine Racer.

In December F1's governing body, the FIA, opened a tender for a twelfth team to join from 2015 and Gene Haas, founder of American engineering firm Haas Automation, recently announced that he had made an application.

However, Ecclestone says "they have been talking about it for three years. Two or three people there. I would say it is most unlikely."

Haas is the joint owner of NASCAR's championship-winning Stewart-Haas Racing team. His engineering business has annual revenue of around $1bn and he is already using it to fuel his F1 bid. Guenther Steiner, a former technical director of Red Bull Racing, is understood to be working alongside Haas on the project.

"It's no good proving someone has got the money," says Ecclestone. "Somebody can have 10 billion in the bank but it doesn't mean they are going to spend it. It's nothing to do with having enough resources. You can't tell them to make a commitment because it's a commitment to do what? It's always been like that."

Ecclestone's caution is understandable given the number of false starts with American F1 projects in recent years. In 2010 the infamous US F1 team was granted a grid slot but failed to take it up after it hit financial difficulty. More recently, Leo Hindery, the managing partner of private equity fund InterMedia, has repeatedly failed to get a street race in New Jersey off the grid. F1 itself has not had an American driver since Scott Speed drove for Toro Rosso in 2007.

The decision to open a tender for a new team surprised the F1 community as several of the existing outfits are barely managing to stay afloat. Two of the most embattled, Lotus and Marussia, were listed as "subject to confirmation" on the 2014 F1 entry list which was released earlier this month.

At the end of 2012 Spanish backmarkers HRT closed their doors leaving the twelfth spot vacant. That's not all. There was so little interest in filling the slot which was meant for US F1 that the FIA formally closed the tender for it in September 2010.

The decision on the new team will be made by the FIA on 28 February and two other applications are understood to have been filed in addition to the one from Haas. They come from former HRT boss Colin Kolles and Stefan GP, a Serbian group that failed to get an F1 entry in 2010 and, as Pitpass revealed, demanded a European Commission investigation into the process . However, Ecclestone says that the decision to open the grid slot was driven by Haas. "The FIA is not introducing a new team, the team is asking for an entry. Somebody has asked them can we have an entry. I doubt they will get in."

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