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Patrick to F1? Haas not ruling it out

2015-05-14 12:48


NEXT IN LINE FOR F1? Danica Patrick with fellow Chevrolet driver Casey Mears down on the grid during qualifying for a Nascar Sprint Cup race in Kansas City on May 8 2015. Could Patrick hit the F1 circuit? Image: Ed Zurga / AFP

LONDON, England - Nascar team co-owner Gene Haas has no desire to fuel speculation - but neither will he rule out entirely - the possibility of Danica Patrick racing for his new Formula 1 team in 2014.

"If the right sponsor came along, then anything is possible," the California-based businessman told Reuters when asked whether the world's best-known female racer might make a sensational switch from oval tracks.

Even as he spoke, on a visit to the GP paddock in Spain on May 10 2015, his F1 team principal Guenther Steiner grimaced.


"Don't put anything in that Danica is coming to F1," laughed the Austrian, mindful of all the stories written since Haas Formula 1 confirmed it would make its GP debut in 2016.

"We've been down that path last year," agreed Haas, who nonetheless left no doubt that his Stewart-Haas Nascar driver would be given serious consideration if the deal is good and she wanted to do it.

F1 has not had a woman driver start a race in nearly 40 years and Patrick, who nearly tested for Honda in 2008, has been through the rumour mill many times.

Haas said of the 33-year-old who in 2013 became the first woman to take pole for the season-opening Daytona 500: "We don't want to sit there and say no to anything but the probabilities... obviously when she's in Nascar, it's very difficult to participate in F1."

Recent events may make it easier, however...


Patrick's long-term backer, internet domain name service GoDaddy Inc, announced in April 2015 month it would quit Nascar at the end of 2015 - which left her future in doubt. Haas, however, was positive on that score.

"Danica Patrick is highly marketable and, if anything, we're very lucky that GoDaddy is giving us enough time to find a sponsor that she'll fit with. She can sell anything," he said. "She has as much attention at the race track as any of the drivers so she's a very valuable person."

Haas F1 will be the first US-based team in F1 since 1986 and will compete with Ferrari engines in a close tie-up with the Italian team. Haas has secured a European base in central England, buying the old Marussia factory in Banbury, and is making steady progress even if no driver announcement is expected for months.

Haas explained: "We kind of have to wait until mid-summer and really see who's available. Obviously F1 cars are a little unique - you probably have to have somebody with experience in driving these cars.

"It would be a home-run to put an American driver in an American F1 team but it takes a lot of alignment of the stars for that to happen."


Haas said the team had acquired no equipment from auctions of the failed Caterham and Marussia teams, other than the latter's super-computer, preferring instead to buy big-ticket items such as trailers new.

He added that the team had about 90 employees with another 50 or 60 to be hired, and would reflect the 'premium brand' of his machine automation business.

"Right now we're in that slow period of just kind of building things, putting things together," said the 62-year-old. "Our goal is to show that you can survive in F1 without the drama that some of the other teams go through. I think, from everything that I've seen, we're going to be fine."

Haas said he was aiming to make the most of "Nascar efficiencies", buying-in technology from various companies instead of doing it the traditional F1 way. He added: "We really don't have any urgent need for sponsors but we'd certainly like to have some.

"Our goal is we're going racing, sponsored or not," he added.

With the prospect of adding an F1 schedule to the time needed to run his business and attend Nascar races, Haas could be short of sleep through 2016, but he laughed that off.

"I've no idea how I'm going to make all this work," he smiled. "It's fun, might as well do it before you're dead."

Read more on:    formula 1  |  england

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