Gene Haas has not ruled out signing Danica Patrick for his new Formula 1 team next season, should she be able to attract a big-name sponsor.
Haas F1 is now just 10 months away from making its debut, and question marks still hang over the driver lineup. The team has already announced no decision will be made until later this year, with numerous names in the frame, and that includes Patrick.
The 33-year-old, currently competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup with the team Haas co-owns with Tony Stewart, is to lose long-time backer GoDaddy at the end of the year, although the company made a point of saying that it would retain an association with Patrick.
Haas told AUTOSPORT: “If the right sponsor came along then anything is possible. Danica Patrick is highly marketable, and if anything we’re very lucky GoDaddy is giving us enough time to find a sponsor that she’ll fit with, because she can sell anything. She has as much attention at the racetrack as any of the drivers, so she’s a very valuable person.”
Haas recognizes luring Patrick to F1 is a long shot, adding: “We kind of have to wait until midsummer and really see who’s available. Obviously Formula 1 cars are a little unique – you probably have to have someone with relative experience of driving these cars.
“But we don’t want to sit here and say no to anything, although the probabilities, and obviously with Danica in NASCAR, it’s very difficult to participate in F1. Obviously it would be a home run to put an American driver in an American Formula 1 team, but it takes a lot of alignment of the stars for that to happen.”
In terms of behind-the-scenes preparation in other areas, Haas could not be happier as the factory is up and running, with around 90 staff currently on board.
Haas (LEFT) feels another 50 to 60 need to be recruited before the team is up to full speed, but at present everything is on schedule.
“We’ve ordered a lot of equipment, we’re working on pit equipment, and we’re working closely with Ferrari in terms of the engine and the things we’re going to need,” said Haas. “Right now we’re in that slow period of building things, putting things together.
“It takes longer to do everything when you have time; time seems to fill up the space.”
The key for any new team, of course, revolves around money and whether it is in a solid position financially. Haas maintains his organization is currently healthy on that front, even without sponsorship, which he is looking into.
“We really don’t have any urgent need for sponsors, but we’d certainly like to have some,” said Haas. “But our goal is we’re going racing, whether we’re sponsored or not.
“I believe there are people out there who want to be associated with us, but there’s also a price with that, too. We really want to be known as a premium brand machine tool, so we’re going to be a premium brand race team too. We’re not going to be bargain racers.”