America has had a turbulent, troubled, but at times successful relationship with Formula 1. Soon, that difficult history may get a new chapter courtesy of Stewart-Haas co-owner Gene Haas, who recently secured a Formula 1 team license from the FIA.
Since the beginning, but especially of late, American teams and drivers seem to have had a harder go of things than their European counterparts in the series. Despite the strife, Americans have proved they have what it takes to race and win against the rest of the world's road racing best, from Dan Gurney and All American Racing to Phil Hill to Mario Andretti and more. No Americans have driven in F1 since Scott Speed left the series in 2007, however.
Just a few years ago, in 2009, it looked like America might make another go of it with the US F1 Team. Headed up by another man with ties to Haas, former Haas CNC Racing technical director Ken Anderson, alongside Peter Windsor, the US F1 Team appeared to have the right stuff--but ultimately the plan fell apart due to a lack of funds.
With Haas Automation owner Gene Haas himself behind the latest bid to return America to F1, hopes are high that something real will come of it, especially now that the preliminary hurdle of securing the FIA's approval has been cleared. In a statement announcing the license, Haas was optimistic, but at the same time realistic about the process of launching an F1 team.
"Obviously, we’re extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA. It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One," said Haas. "Now, the really hard work begins. It’s a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid. I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition."
Guenther Steiner was announced as the team principal for the Haas Formula race team. Steiner has experience working as an engineer in WRC, DTM, and F1, including a stint as the technical director of Red Bull Racing.
During the press conference announcing the license approval, Haas added, "It's the Formula 1 World Championship, it goes all over the world. That to me is interesting, because to compete in a world market and win is something that is very hard to do, and that's going to enhance the brand name of Haas Automation, which is really the ultimate goal here, is to try to improve our standing in the world so that we can sell more products."
Haas won't try to reinvent the wheel, however, instead planning to leverage partnerships to hit the ground running.
That, to us, sounds like a very serious case for wanting to do what it takes to win in Formula 1, said by a man at the head of one of the largest CNC machine tool builders in the world. And that's an American F1 team we can do more than hope for--it's one we can look forward to seeing on track.