Haas aiming to take advantage of huge spike in US F1 interest

Sam Cooper
Kevin Magnussen driving the upgraded Haas VF-22. Hungary, July 2022.

Kevin Magnussen driving the upgraded Haas VF-22 at the Hungaroring. Hungary, July 2022.

Guenther Steiner says Haas want to target the American market as there is now “more F1 presence” in the United States.

As the only US team on the grid, Haas are in a unique opportunity to capitalise on the growing success of the sport in the US but have been, as of yet, reluctant to do so.

The arrival of the Las Vegas Grand Prix to the 2023 calendar, as well as the introduction of the Miami Grand Prix this season, is a clear signal of how much the sport has grown in recent years.

Owners Liberty Media targeted what they believed was an untapped market with an aggressive marketing approach, which included allowing Netflix behind-the-scenes to film Drive to Survive.

That has paid off with more US fans than ever wanting to watch races and get involved in the sport but Haas have yet to make the most of their US heritage.

With owner Gene Haas being a US citizen, as well as the team’s official headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Haas have everything they need to become known as the American team but there is still a European feel about them currently.

Both drivers are from Europe. the team’s main base is in Banbury, England and they have offices in Maranello, Italy.

But that could soon change with Steiner admitting the team need to use their American identity more going forward.

“We need to use that (American identity) more now because there is more presence (in the United States),” Steiner told RACER. “It’s what we need to do as a team, it’s not a directive. We were never told what we have to be – we are who we are. But now I think we can focus on it more because there’s more interest.

“Before, you could try to create interest but the response was weak. But now, knowing the response is big, for sure we will focus on that.”

Reluctance to Andretti Global entry provides Haas with perfect opportunity

Of all the team bosses happy to see the Andretti’s bid to enter Formula 1 stumble, it is perhaps Steiner who will have the biggest smile on his face.

Andretti, led by Michael, want to enter the sport for 2024 but have found both the FIA and F1 are dragging their heels when it comes to making a decision. This has led to both he and father Mario hitting out at current teams with Michael accusing F1 of being a “European club.”

Steiner took umbrage to this assessment, labelling the Andretti man’s comments as “not constructive” but Andretti’s inability to secure a grid spot does provide Haas with an opportunity to seize the American market, something they have not been doing up until this point.

In 2021, Nielsen Sports in conjunction with F1 and Motorsport.com produced the 2021 Global Fan Survey and of the 167,000  people surveyed, Haas’ popularity was found to have fallen since 2017.

One way to boost that would to be make the most of their American roots and put an American driver in their car. It has been seven years since an American last competed in the sport but there is a growing list of candidates who could be ready for the step up.

A possible option for Steiner and co. could be to make a move for 22-year-old Colton Herta. The current IndyCar driver races for Andretti in that series and is part of the McLaren group which could make prising him from either contract difficult, but not impossible.

If Andretti hit even more roadblocks in their bid to reach the Formula 1 promised land and as McLaren appear to have chosen Oscar Piastri to fill the seat next to Lando Norris, Haas could present an exciting opportunity for Herta.

He is also a man with F1 experience, albeit limited, having tested the MCL35M at the Algarve International Circuit in July.

Haas have been keeping pretty tight-lipped on Mick Schumacher’s extension and, with his contract set to run out at the end of the season, the team could now choose to look elsewhere.