The for­mer tech­ni­cal brains of Red Bull on the chal­lenges of re­turn­ing to F1 as team prin­ci­pal of new-for-2016 Haas F1


Hello Gun­ther. Long time no see. When were you last a part of For­mula 1?

It was 2006, with Red Bull.

What’s it like be­ing in­volved in an F1 launch pro­ject? It’s good, oth­er­wise I wouldn’t have got in­volved. Hav­ing spent the past eight years in the US [work­ing in NAS­CAR] it’s ex­cit­ing to have some­body like Gene Haas who wants to do this. We will do it right, as good as we can, to make it suc­cess­ful. It’s im­por­tant for the sport, it’s im­por­tant for the United States. F1 is a big sport and it’s a big coun­try. It’s ex­cit­ing, you know? Can you do bet­ter than some of the other teams that have tried to take part in For­mula 1 from the US? Well, we know what we are go­ing to do. I wouldn’t say there were a lot of teams that didn’t do it right, be­cause there have been some US teams that weren’t un­suc­cess­ful – I mean, not like Fer­rari, but teams that were okay. We know in the be­gin­ning we can­not win, but we won’t be an em­bar­rass­ment. You plan to be partly Euro­pean-based, partly Amer­i­can-based, don’t you? That’s right. We’ll have a tech­ni­cal part­ner to help with the com­po­nents, so our devel­op­ment time and engi­neer­ing force will be smaller than if we were do­ing it our­selves. But we will have head­quar­ters in the US, where we have the Wind­s­hear wind­tun­nel, which is one of the best mov­ing-floor wind tun­nels in the world. It’s set up to run full-scale mod­els, which aren’t al­lowed in F1, so we’re adapt­ing it to run smaller-scale mod­els. Sixty per cent is the largest per­mit­ted by the F1 reg­u­la­tions.

We will have the fac­tory there, we will have a com­pos­ite depart­ment and ma­chine shops, but we will get a lot of parts from our tech­ni­cal part­ner [ F1 Rac­ing is speak­ing to Steiner in the Fer­rari mo­torhome…] so there’s a lot we don’t need to make.

The UK part of the busi­ness will be the race team. Yes, it’s split up, but we’re clear about who’s do­ing what. We want to get the best we can from the UK, while build­ing up our team in the United States.

You’re aim­ing to en­ter F1 in 2016. What will you have in the UK by then? A shop, all the equip­ment, the trucks, the mo­torhome, the ship­ping con­tain­ers. We’ll also have of­fices for the race en­gi­neers and the me­chan­ics to re­build the cars. But the IT, engi­neer­ing and aero­dy­nam­ics in­fra­struc­ture will all be in the US.

How ex­ten­sive will your tech­ni­cal part­ner­ship be? To qual­ify as con­struc­tors, we have to make the chas­sis our­selves. The body­work, too. All the rest we can buy else­where, or part­ner up with some­one.

So… will you have a red part­ner? We will tell you that soon. It could be. Haas are tech­ni­cal spon­sors of Fer­rari – you can see the de­cal on the car – so the pos­si­bil­i­ties are high.

If win­ning is out of reach at first, what’s your tar­get? It’s hard to be in the mid­field be­cause there are some good teams out there. So our aim is be­tween eighth and tenth to try to score some points.

What about driv­ers? We’re talk­ing about it in terms of pos­si­bil­i­ties, be­cause those de­ci­sions are too far away. This time next year we will speak se­ri­ously about it – not now. Is the Amer­i­can as­pect of Haas F1 im­por­tant? Will the team feel Amer­i­can? Yes. Gene doesn’t want to be over the top, but he runs a suc­cess­ful Amer­i­can busi­ness and the F1 team should be sim­i­lar in terms of how it runs. That’s his aim. But we won’t have stars and stripes ev­ery­where.

How did you and Gene get to­gether? We met a few years ago and talked over some ideas – for ex­am­ple run­ning a third car for a team. Last year, Gene said: “What do we need to do to make this hap­pen?” and we de­cided to nd a tech­ni­cal part­ner from an es­tab­lished team, then went to get a li­cence. We have been talk­ing about this for more than three years now and Gene knows what he’s do­ing.

What’s Gene Haas like? He’s an in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter. He’s quite easy-go­ing – but not easy to de­scribe in a cou­ple of sen­tences.

It must be quite a thrill to be in­volved in an F1 start up… It’s very ex­cit­ing – a big re­spon­si­bil­ity which I’m not afraid to take – but how many times can you ever do some­thing like this in your life?

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