Good luck Haas – you’ll need it!

F1 Racing - - IGNITION - Fol­low An­thony on Twit­ter: @Rowl­in­son_F1 An­thony Rowl­in­son / 03.16

Bold, crazy, cer­ti­fi­able? Th­ese and many other ad­jec­tives could be (and have been) ap­plied to new For­mula 1 team en­trants over the decades. And now more than ever we must reach for su­perla­tives to de­scribe the scale of the un­der­tak­ing in­volved in launch­ing a new F1 team from scratch. For that’s what Haas F1 have done in pitch­ing their en­try for 2016, evolv­ing it from smart idea to a fully fledged team in the space of just 18 or so months.

Sure, they’ve been ex­cep­tion­ally prag­matic in their ap­proach: a chas­sis from Dal­lara; an en­gine, trans­mis­sion and a host of other per­mit­ted parts di­rect from Fer­rari; and a UK base pre­vi­ously used by Marus­sia. Each of th­ese el­e­ments make the gen­e­sis of a For­mula 1 team some­what eas­ier than it would be for any start-up launch­ing truly from nought.

Yet the chal­lenge ahead for Haas is daunting. There’s that 21-race odyssey for starters. Then the tricky busi­ness of mould­ing sev­eral hun­dred staff into a team. Haas also face their own unique lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges in co­or­di­nat­ing op­er­a­tions from their Ban­bury HQ when nei­ther en­gine nor chas­sis sup­plier are on site.

And that’s be­fore any men­tion of the dire re­cent record of new F1 en­trants: HRT and Cater­ham, both now de­funct; Manor (née Vir­gin) bat­tling on af­ter six tur­bu­lent sea­sons – al­though their per­for­mance tra­jec­tory is hap­pily be­gin­ning to turn up­wards.

In­deed, the last gen­uinely suc­cess­ful For­mula 1 new­com­ers were Red Bull, in 2005, who, as his­tory records, bought a thinly re­sourced Jaguar Rac­ing, pumped in cash and a whole heap of rac­ing savvy, and then added some of F1’s finest tech­ni­cal minds to the mix as they went about build­ing lay­ers of ex­cel­lence to achieve dom­i­na­tion from 2010-13.

Per­haps that’s where Haas should train their gaze as they un­der­take their epic ad­ven­ture: aim­ing to be the best, even as they have to frame their am­bi­tion within the lim­its of the avail­able re­source. Run­ning a ti­tlechal­leng­ing F1 team costs some­where in the re­gion of $600m per sea­son, and while Haas have not set their bar that high ini­tially, nor are they a fly-by-night op­er­a­tion thrown to­gether on the whim of a rich bene­fac­tor. Haas Au­to­ma­tion, the com­pany be­hind Haas F1, are “the largest CNC ma­chine tool builder in the Western World” as their web­site proudly pro­claims and in 2014 they en­joyed their best ever year, with rev­enues top­ping $1bn. With lav­ish fund­ing po­ten­tially on tap, there’s ev­ery rea­son to take Haas F1 se­ri­ously, even as they work through the in­evitable early-sea­son teething trou­bles. No one re­ally knew what to make of Red Bull Rac­ing, af­ter all, when they brought their own brand of fizz to the F1 pad­dock more than a decade ago. But For­mula 1 found out soon enough.

So, as the good ship F1 pre­pares to em­bark once more on a round-the-world voy­age, we wish the very best of sport­ing for­tune to all who sail in her – and es­pe­cially to those brave souls tak­ing the plunge in uncharted, though surely pi­ranha-filled, shark-in­fested, wa­ters.

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