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"Haas will be accepted" says Ecclestone

NEWS STORY
03/04/2014

It seems the decision has been made about the new team which will join Formula One next year. Bernie Ecclestone says he thinks the winning bid will come from NASCAR team owner Gene Haas according to an article in the Independent by Christian Sylt.

"I think Haas will be accepted," says Ecclestone. Haas is the joint owner of the championship-winning Stewart-Haas NASCAR team and is also the founder of leading American engineering firm Haas Automation which has an annual revenue of around £603m ($1bn). It gives him the resources to fuel his bid and he is already using it to attract top names including Guenther Steiner, a former technical director of Red Bull Racing.

"They have got the money but it's a question of whether they are going to spend it," says Ecclestone adding that "a billion would last a new team owner four years."

Ecclestone was initially dismissive of the bid from Haas but has since been convinced that the team has the wherewithal for F1. "I've spoken to Haas but I don't know what they are going to do. It's America so I don't know."

F1 has had a run of bad luck in the United States and it has coloured Ecclestone's opinion of the country's interest in the sport. The most high-profile failure was US F1 which was due to join F1 in 2010 but couldn't raise enough money. More recently, New Jersey's Grand Prix of America has been postponed for the past two years as the organisers still lack £60.3m ($100m) to bring the 3.2 miles of public roads up to F1 standards.

Not only is Ecclestone persisting with this race but he is also planning another on the west coast in California. His chances could be boosted by having Haas in F1 since it is such a well-known name in NASCAR which is the most popular motorsport series in the US.

If it is accepted Haas would become F1's twelfth team and the first American outfit in the sport since the 1980s. It has not had an American driver since Scott Speed left Toro Rosso in 2007.

In December the FIA opened a tender for the new team. A decision was expected to be made on 28 February but this was delayed until an unknown date.

In a recent interview Haas said "it's not like any individual makes a decision there. They get together in a group and they look at the package and they make their decision, but ultimately I think it has to go to Mr. Ecclestone."

The FIA's decision to open the tender surprised F1 insiders as several of the existing outfits are barely managing to keep their wheels turning. Budgets have accelerated in recent years and hit an estimated £127.2m ($211m) in 2013. Several drivers complained about not being paid last year and at the end of 2012 Spanish minnows HRT closed their doors after just three seasons leaving the twelfth spot vacant.

When US F1 didn't take up the 13th slot there was so little interest in filling it that the FIA formally closed the tender for it in September 2010. However, Ecclestone says "Every year we or the FIA have approaches for new teams."

In addition to the application from Haas, others are understood to have been filed by former HRT boss Colin Kolles and Stefan GP, a Serbian organisation that was also bidding for an F1 entry in 2010. Time will tell whether they get off the grid.

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