Apr 10 2014, 6:14pm CDT | by Forbes
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that official confirmation will be given on Friday that a new team owned by American businessman Gene Haas will be allowed to join the race series next year.
Last week Mr Ecclestone told Britain’s Independent newspaper that he thought the team would be accepted but Mr Haas is still waiting for formal confirmation from F1’s governing body the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
“We haven’t been notified by the FIA, but Bernie is kind of half [of] Formula One, so I’m sure what he says goes,” said Mr Haas at the Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. He won’t have to wait much longer.
“Haas has been accepted,” Mr Ecclestone told Forbes. “The FIA has accepted him for sure. It is done. They are going to put that out tomorrow.” It is unclear whether the confirmation will be publicly available or whether it will just be communicated to Mr Haas but, either way, it will put his mind to rest.
In December the FIA opened a tender for a 12th F1 team and Mr Haas filed an application. The following month Mr Ecclestone told Racer magazine that Mr Haas has “been talking about it for three years,” and although a decision about the new team was due to be made on 28 February this was delayed until an unknown date. It has kept Mr Haas on the edge of his seat.
“We needed to know about two months ago,” Mr Haas told the Associated Press on Sunday. “If Mr. Ecclestone says that we’re accepted and the FIA issues us some kind of notice in the next few weeks, then we can entertain 2015. But if we lose another month, I don’t think we could do it.”
Mr Haas is joint owner of NASCAR’s championship-winning Stewart-Haas Racing team and also founded engineering firm Haas Automation which has annual revenue of around $1 billion. It gives him the resources to fuel his F1 bid and he is already using it to attract top names as Guenther Steiner, a former technical director of four-time F1 champions Red Bull Racing, is understood to be involved.
Ecclestone was initially dismissive of the bid from Mr Haas and still says it could still become a bottomless pit. “A billion would last a new team owner four years,” he told the Independent last week.
The FIA’s decision to open the tender surprised F1 insiders as several of the existing teams are barely managing to keep their wheels turning. Budgets have accelerated in recent years and hit an estimated $211 million in 2013. Several drivers complained about not being paid last year and at the end of 2012 Spanish minnows HRT closed their doors leaving the 12th spot vacant.
When HRT joined F1 in March 2010 another American-based team, US F1, was also granted an entry but never made the grid after running into financial difficulties. There was so little interest in filling the 13th slot that the FIA formally closed the tender for it in September 2010.
Since then, interest in F1 in the United States has increased. It has been fuelled by the United States Grand Prix which made a successful return to the F1 calendar after a five year hiatus in 2012 at a new purpose-built facility in Austin, Texas.
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 bidding for an F1 entry in 2010. “We are looking at the other two but Haas has been accepted,” says Mr Ecclestone. “We are going to accept that Haas team.”
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