Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, Suzuka, 2014

Haas intends to avoid Caterham “mistakes”

2016 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, Suzuka, 2014Gene Haas believes his Formula One team can avoid the “mistakes” made by the likes of Caterham and HRT when it joins the grid in 2016.

The future of Caterham’s team is in serious doubt following its sale earlier this year.

Haas’s team will be the first new entrant in F1 since Caterham (formerly Lotus), HRT and Marussia (formerly Virgin) arrived in 2010. HRT collapsed after just three years.

Asked in an interview for CNN’s The Circuit how he intended to avoid the difficulties they faced, Haas said: “I think the biggest problem they had is that they tried to get to the grid so fast they wound up having to take on partnerships that maybe weren’t thoroughly thought out and wound up making a lot of mistakes.”

“Inevitably they didn’t have the resources or the cars weren’t properly put together because they’d rushed things.”

Haas added he had limited expectations for his team’s immediate performance. “I think in the first five years it’s just surviving,” he said.

“We don’t have any expectations of grandeur that we are going to go out there and win championships. If we could even win one race in five years, I think that would be a tremendous success.

“Just the association of being with Formula One basically takes our brand from nobody to the stratosphere. Sooner or later we’ll march up. I’m not expecting to beat anybody, just maybe beat the guys at the back.”

The Haas F1 Team will use Ferrari engines when it makes its debut in the sport. Haas said the Italian marque “wanted to go beyond an engine supplier and they were going to actually help us with a lot of the basic structures of the car”.

“We would be very proud to be a Ferrari ‘B-team’,” he added. “That would certainly teach us how to run in Formula One and we quite frankly will take all the help they can give us, because you can’t really get better than Ferrari.”

2016 F1 season

Browse all 2016 F1 season articles

Image © Caterham/LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

41 comments on “Haas intends to avoid Caterham “mistakes””

  1. “because you can’t really get better than Ferrari”… Apart from in the last 6 seasons.

    1. Apart from Mercedes, Redbull, and now Williams, and not far away, maybe McLaren.

    2. Is the coverage across the pond THAT bad? Ferrari has been stuck with quite average cars since 2005. Lack of innovation = lack of WCCs.

      1. *Since 2008

        1. The 2008 car was good. They won just over half the races that season, but it wasn’t as dominant as some of their cars in the early 2000s. I reckon the McLaren was still the better car that year.

          1. No it wasn’t. The Ferrari was quite better as is obvious by a second rate driver like Massa fighting with Hamilton.
            Hamilton’s ability and the Ferrari drivers lack of ability masked the difference.

    3. Not if you’re a Ferrari customer. What’s a Ferrari customer ever won in 20-odd years? Short answer: the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. And that was a pretty special set of circumstances.

    4. @tonyyeb Too fussy. It’s a positive message and also it is the right message. Ferrari is the oldest team on the grid, it has also been nominated the best company in the world to work with, and one of only 2 teams that are involved in both sides of the trade chassis and powertrain but probably the only to have both the management and the workforce concentrated around itself and not only by name, and in the end it is also the spirit, Ferrari will endure the hard times and win again rather than run away, leaving only the sites were the old teams will now try to survive, aka Brackley, Enstone, Milton Keynes, etc.

  2. “We would be very proud to be a Ferrari ‘B-team’

    Hah, the Ferrari A team is bad enough. I can see this partnership ending in tear’s (very quickly aswell).

    1. Hmmm. Alonso to the ‘B-team’?

  3. Avoiding Caterham’s mistakes, just making Haas mistakes.

    1. He has a point as regards Caterham more so than even HRT.
      Fernandes thought he could achieve success very quickly and his wrong assumption wasn’t helped in any way by the confidence of Gascoyne, Mike, who had recently become accustomed to running the technical department of large racing teams.
      Caterham were investing like they had a long term plan, but their focus was short term and result dependent.
      He was also hoping to use the association with Lotus cars to get more investments, but when that resulted in court cases and the loss of the business name, a quick purchase of Caterham took him in a direction he probably didn’t plan or was expecting to go.
      The racing team quickly became over confident in their ability when they switched from the Cosworth engines to Renault, thinking the engines was the only hindrance to their ambition of running in the midfield. In spite of that, they couldn’t establish a very wide gab between themselves and the other back running teams.
      As the results failed to materialise so also the motivation began to wane.

      Haas is taking the right approach, even if I think he is over optimistic if he expects a win in 5 years. But then if his focus is on developing his cars and learning how to maximise potetial with minimal expense, he can eventually achieve some level of success.
      He above all has the connections to remain in F1 for a long time. What I don’t know is if he is committed to seeing his funds going up the chimney without generating the level of heat he expects.

      1. Well it seems he is committed for at least five years of not so great results but i doubt he is committed for five years of completely no results like Caterham currently has.
        Also to be fair to him he never said he expects to win in 5 years. He said that if they get a win then it will consider it a major tremendous success. Basically his saying that a win in five years is his most optimistic dream scenario and is more than he really expects.

  4. The Blade Runner (@)
    23rd October 2014, 10:39

    Thinking of “B Teams” which aid the development of the “A Team”:

    Red Bull have Scuderia Toro Rosso; Ferrari will have Haas; Mercedes will effectively have Williams, Lotus and Force India.

    Perhaps time for McLaren to consider something similar? (Discuss)

    1. It would perhaps be a question of: McLaren or Honda having a ‘B’ team?

  5. The more Haas speaks, the more he convinces me that his project is really serious. The guy is realist, not dreaming of podiums in third season. If his team reaches at least Toro Rosso level, then it’d be great achievement and very healthy for F1, of course, if we believe they’ll become Ferrari ‘B team’.

    Besides, some teams were talking about three car teams, but maybe it is better that all top teams would establish a ‘B team’? Mercedes, Ferrari, Mclaren and RBR have loads of cash, so that wouldn’t be a problem for them. And very healthy for F1.

    1. @osvaldas31 – I think Haas has the ability to make it in F1.

      He is already in the business of racing and knows what kind of commitment it takes.

      He is bringing partners and sponsors on board, but is also self sufficient financially. He is not dependent on OPM (Other People’s Money).

      He is partnering with the most iconic team in F1. Not always the most successful on the track, but certainly the team with the most clout in F1. Success on the track is cyclical and Haas knows that. As Haas learns and becomes more established in F1 he can adapt and change partners if needed. First, a team needs to become established, then find whatever it takes to improve. Ferrari have made some changes and maybe they will have more success within the next few seasons. Maybe Haas has tied in with Ferrari at just the right moment, time will tell.

      His expectations are realistic. His future in F1 is not tied to winning races in his second or third season or else. He has stated 5 years to see what they can do. Some teams come into F1 with very unrealistic expectations only to disappoint everyone including their investors and then the money runs out. (See financial self sufficiency above.)

      Haas can adapt. Already he has changed some of his original plans and adapted. Part of this is due to the fact he did not rush to make it to the grid in 2015. That was a good move. It has given Haas more time to see what will work and what may not work.

      All these points make it more likely that Haas will be in F1 for the long haul. Success on the track will be determined by many different factors and fortunes over the next few years. Within that time frame (starting in 2016) I would certainly give Haas better chances than Caterham, Marussia, Lotus or Sauber. It’s sad to think some or all of those teams may not even be on the grid in 2016. Over the first 5 years for Haas I would hope they have more success than Toyota did, for example. We shall see.

  6. The biggest mistake Caterham made was to believe whoever said there was going to be a budget cap. Haven’t heard much more about Haas’ factory plans and whether he is still insisting on setting up in the U.S. His first choice should be the midlands ‘golden triangle’ or if the Ferrari relationship is more than just customer/supplier one, near Maranello. Without sharing windtunnels/simulators he’s going to struggle.

    1. @petea Apparently he already has a state of the art windtunnel

      1. …and F1 teams as customers for said wind tunnel + CNC business.

      2. Great, he could rent it out to Ferrari!

      3. @george I believe he has a full-sized wind tunnel though and like Sauber, he cannot use it.

    2. First and foremost, Gene Haas is a businessman, and a very successful one at that. Check out Haas Automation which builds some of the most advanced CNC machines on the market:
      He also owns the most advanced wind tunnel in North America if not the world:
      If he has decided to go into F1, you can bet he has given a great deal of consideration to the decision and he’s not in the business of failure. He’s not just some rich idiot who wants his very own pet F1 team. So far I have been impressed with the measured approach he’s taken and the decisions he’s made and his business ventures make him especially well suited to enter an F1 team. Ferrari could benefit as well; I expect Haas CNC machines to start showing up in the Ferrari factory and Ferrari models in the Windshear facility. I think you will find Haas F1 on the grid for a while.

    3. RB (@frogmankouki)
      23rd October 2014, 19:45

      I believe he is still planning on setting up the Haas F1 Team in the USA, Kannapolis, North Carolina at the same campus as his NASCAR teams. I wish them only the best of luck, Ferrari may not be doing the best now but it’s not a bad place to partner with during your inaugural seasons. Who knows we may even see a full time US driver on the grid.

      The only thing I don’t care for is the name change…Hass F1 Team? I much preferred Haas Formula , just sounds more polished to me.

  7. I don’t reckon Gene Haas can know what mistakes Tony Fernandes made. Tony spent enough money, set up in F1 Valley and appointed an ex Renault Dream Team technical director. What did he do wrong, exactly?

    He had Renault engines, use of Williams’ secondary windtunnel, and a technical partnership with General Electric. But still he ended up with a perennially slow car. I suppose we could say he took too long to start using Toyota’s windtunnel? Either way it’s subtle, I’d have thought, not something easily spotted from a distance.

    1. For years though they were best of the rest. I’m no expert but it seems this year they really plateaued due to lack of commitment from its owners and development suffered. The crap PUs don’t help either

      It was only this year that Marussia overtook them and took best advantage of points when they were on offer in Monaco.

      1. True, but Marussia were never really that far away based on the resources Caterham were spending as opposed to Marussia. Fernandes doesn’t have a passion for F1 or racing. Money doesn’t guarantee success in F1, ask Toyota.
        Common sense is what had Marussia achieving what Caterham haven’t.

    2. This @lockup.

      I really thing critisizing what others did wrong, and in doing so showing you are being ignorant, is not the best way to go.

      Sadly, so far Haas has not gotten much further than USF1 – they showed factory and design office with fancy pictures of their tested nose cone. Haas gave us the video of putting his sign up. right.

      Sure, Haas is better based, as he has knowledge of racing, of building/maintaining the cars and has the infrastructure that can build them as well as a big amount of money he can spend if he chooses to do so. But compared to Fernandes, he is pretty much in the same spot at best, but has a far harder position to attract top F1 people. On the other hand maybe for he expects and is willing to spend as much where the signups in 2009 had been looking towards spending far less.

      1. @bascb Yeah, people. That is so crucial, and not easy.

        I’m thinking of Williams – appointed Mike Coughlan…disaster. Swapped in Pat Symonds…success.

        Well I do hope Haas can find the right leadership for his team. One thing he should have learned from Caterham and the others, and Ferrari lol, is that they are few and far between! And being a member of a successful team isn’t much of a guide.

  8. Oh dear. He doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes but doesn’t seem entirely sure what they were.

    First (and last) mistake is not being based in the UK.

    Ferrari but for a renaissance under Brawn/Schumacher haven’t been a force since the “horse was ahead of the cart”.. despite the biggest budget in F1.

    If I was Haas, id buy Sauber and move them to the UK. Starting a new team from the ground up seems very difficult.

    1. I think that by now Marussia has a solid base to start from, and Lotus or Force India could work fine. If italy lures him, I am pretty certain Didi will be happy to sell STR off.

  9. btw Keith, those pop ups from the bottom of the page….really annoying. if I even move my cursor over them it brings up a totally unwanted link to a bank or currys….

    1. Easy solution: become a subscriber at a very reasonable £1/month, then they go away.

      We have to be thankful to @keithcollantine, as without the subscriptions/advertising, then this site would likely not exist.

  10. I have full confidence in the abilities of Mr. Haas to ultimately succeed in F1. Over the past ten years I’ve seen him build his NASCAR team from a one car minnow to a highly competitive, four car operation.

    The key turning point was in 2009 when he merged forces with experienced, championship winning driver Tony Stewart to form Stewart-Haas Racing. They won the NASCAR title in 2011 and have a strong chance of winning this year’s title in the next few weeks.

    So starting as an underdog and associating himself with top level talent is nothing new to him. He’s traveled this road before and he’s taking the time to get it done right. I think the Haas team will be a major plus for F1 (and Ferrari?) in the end.

    1. So, Alonso-Hass Racing?

      1. So THAT’S why no one has made any announcement about Alonso’s future!

  11. I think Caterham’s most obvious mistakes were underestimating the costs of running an F1 team and too high expectations. If Manfredi Ravetto’s revelation that “this is a small team which was structured as a mega, state-of-the-art, supersonic, top team” is true, then it kind of confirms my view.

    According to Dieter Rencken, their 2013 budget was £65m and the owners and sponsors actually had to contribute less than in Marussia’s case because Caterham were getting more from FOM. They were obviously never going to move up the grid with that level of investment but Fernandes once even mentioned possible victories. Of course, F1’s business model is tainted but if you have decided to join this sport, then you have to take it into account. And if they really believed that they would get the budget cap because Max Mosley had promised them to push it through, then they were being naive.

    My impression is that Fernandes also did not really care about the racing and just wanted to try his luck and see if it was possible to make some money via F1 (directly or indirectly). As it turned out impossible to do that, he jumped ship.

  12. Does anybody else get a whiff of Jordan from Hass?

    They both clearly have a knack for getting sponsors. They both like to use the off-the-shelf type solutions where possible when it comes to car design. They’ve both run racing teams at a high level BEFORE entering F1 and crucially the only businesses they’re involved in are racing related; it really is their ‘stock and trade’.

    Personally, I think they’ll be alright.

  13. Haas has said he’s in no hurry. And if the team can surive long enough to become competitive, the best way to start off their experience would really be as a Ferrari B-team. Not only would their presence on the grid be valuable to Ferrari and therefore more likely, they’d also benefit from drivers who are part of a development program, parts which have been designed by some of the best guys around and perhaps even team personnel with former experience. Once they’re strong enough, considering they’re a completely separate team, unlike Toro Rosso and Red Bull, severing ties shouldn’t be a problem. One at the time, just as they are ready to deal with it on their own.
    But Haas’ low-profile and humble expectations make this seem a far more promising arrival than the 2010 newbies.

  14. I think they have difficult thing.

  15. Haas is definitely not delusional, he’s only slightly optimistic and in the end if it all goes down, I’m certain that it won’t be because of this man, he’s smart, he’s a racer and a business man.

Comments are closed.