A new team will compete in Formula One in 2016, that of American outfit, Haas F1. They will have Frenchman Romain Grosjean, and Mexican, Esteban Gutierrez driving for them.
The team will run Ferrari engines, having secured a technical partnership with the Italian team, and will operate out of two locations. The first being Kannapolis in the United States and the other being Banbury in the United Kingdom.
The hope of those working for the team and of many interested in Formula One is that Haas will be at least a solid midfield runner from the first Grand Prix, although there is debate as to whether they will be able to challenge for points finishes in 2016.
You would think with the driver line up the team has, as well as the technical partnership with Ferrari, not to mention the year of building and developing the team and car, that Haas will be in good shape to be competitive right from the outset.
Yet there is surely a sense of nervousness around Formula One. The last time a new team entered the sport was in 2010 with Virgin Racing (now Manor Racing), Lotus Racing and HRT entering. All three of those teams have either disappeared from the sport or entered administration at some point. Only Virgin Racing (under Marussia) managed to score any points, which they didn’t achieve until 2014.
To add to the nervousness, the sport needs Haas F1 to do well. As mentioned at the very beginning of this post, it is an American team, a market that the sport has failed to have a firm presence in for many years. Not to mention the threat that the little presence the sport has which was put at risk at the end of 2015 with the concerns over the future of the United States Grand Prix.
It is also important for the sport in Mexico, whose Grand Prix returned with much fanfare in 2015 and will be wanting another competitive Mexican driver on the grid, alongside Sergio Perez, to keep Mexico interested in the sport and entice even more fans to the race this year.
You could go even further and say that the sport could be relying on Haas to show other prospective teams that if you go about it in the right way, you can be competitive in Formula One from a team’s debut year onwards.
It would seem in conclusion then that although many will see Haas as just another team, it shouldn’t be understated just how important they already have become to the sport, without having even turned a wheel.