American businessman Gene Haas has revealed that he is planning to hire around 250 people to run his new Formula One team according to an article in the Daily Telegraph by Christian Sylt.
Earlier this month Pitpass revealed that the team, which will be known as Haas Formula, will début in 2016 and it can't come soon enough for F1. The future of several teams is currently uncertain as they struggle with accelerating costs and reversing sponsorship revenues. Haas will give the industry a much-needed boost and although it is more than a year before his team lines up for its first race, he will need to start appointing staff soon to put the wheels in motion.
"I think initially we are going to be hiring around 200, maybe a little bit more than that at 250," says Haas. He adds that he is considering locating the team's European offices in England where 8 of the 11 outfits are based in a cluster in the Midlands known as Motorsport Valley. The team's headquarters will be in North Carolina alongside NASCAR's championship-winning Stewart-Haas team which Haas co-owns with American driver Tony Stewart.
In contrast, Haas says he will retain sole ownership of the F1 team. "I'm not planning on having any partners in the F1 team. This is kind of a big risk thing and I wouldn't really want to give anybody expectations that we are going to make money with it but that is the goal. The ultimate goal is to have a successful race team."
As Pitpass recently revealed, Haas considered buying an F1 team around a year ago but decided instead to create one from scratch to ensure that it could be American from the ground up. "We really are going to be an American team. We are going to be different," he says. "There is no doubt about it in my mind because this is how we do things. We are going to learn what Formula One is all about but I think we have got American smarts as far as racing and we are going to apply that to Formula One in our own way."
Guenther Steiner, a former technical director of Red Bull Racing, has been appointed as team principal and Haas says he hopes to hire an American driver. He recently suggested that Danica Patrick, who drives for Stewart-Haas in NASCAR, would be a "great candidate." However, he adds that he has not ruled out taking on a pay driver.
"An American driver would be one of those 'knock it out the ballpark' type moments. I think initially what we really would like is probably a veteran Formula One driver, preferably someone who has driven the 2014 car, to help us. Someone who understands how the cars work as far as chassis and aero which is obviously king. Then the remaining seat would either go to someone who has a lot of promise, that could be an American, or someone else that brings some sponsorship money to the table too."
It shows that Haas has got his eye firmly on a financial plan which is a prudent strategy. Indeed, although Haas is a fan of racing the team is far from a personal whim. Instead, it will act as a marketing vehicle for Haas Automation, the machine tool manufacturer which he founded in 1983. Haas hopes that the team will help to boost the company's exposure and ultimately double its revenue which came to £587m ($1bn) in 2013.
It explains why he is proceeding with the project despite F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone telling Pitpass in April that the team's running costs will come to £587m in just four years.
"Our five year plan is to double our sales from one billion to two billion a year," says Haas. "About 50% of our production is sold in the United States and we sell about 50% overseas but in terms of overall markets, the US consumes five or six billion dollars a year whilst the rest of the world is 80 billion dollars a year." He hopes that over the next five years "the percentage of our production that is sold overseas will increase from 50% to maybe 70%." It means increasing this from £294m ($500m) now to up to £822m ($1.4bn) in five years. F1 is at the heart of this plan.
"I need to penetrate not only Europe and South America but China and Asia. These are all these markets that we have a tough time even getting any kind of notice in and they really like Formula One," says Haas. "China is a huge market and we have a low percentage there so we would really like to expand significantly in that market. I think Formula One can help us there in particular because the Chinese are so brand driven, especially with high end brands."
He adds "I'm talking about a positioning of the brand. I am really trying to separate Haas Automation out from the pack and I think Formula One fits perfectly. I think if we can associate Haas Automation with Formula One it becomes a premium brand and a premium brand is the Holy Grail of marketing.
"There is a parallel with Red Bull. Red Bull sells an energy drink and it aligns itself with a group of people in racing that it sees as a target audience. I kind of see the same thing with machine tools." It sets a high standard and he knows it.