DECEMBER 5, 2015

F1 veterans warn newcomer Haas

Three F1 veterans have warned that Haas is facing a "rude awakening" in formula one.

The new American team has linked up as almost a Ferrari 'B team', but former Force India chief Colin Kolles said owner Gene Haas should still expect the sport to burn up his money.

"I think it will be very difficult for them," the Romanian, last in F1 with the ill-fated HRT project, told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

"In my time I have met many billionaires with a lot of interest in formula one. I said to every one of them 'Take a million, throw it into the fire and watch how formula one will burn it if you don't know what you're doing," Kolles added.

One example, he said, is Alex Shnaider, a Russian-born entrepreneur who took his Midland company into F1 with Kolles at the helm.

"After one and a half years, he understood what I had warned him about and decided to sell.

"One day - and this is just a matter of time - Mr Haas will ask 'What happened?' Just as Mr Cheglakov (Marussia) wondered what happened. Just as Mr Carabante (HRT) asked what happened with his money in the first six months. Nothing! That's the problem," Kolles added.

He said Haas will also find a very difficult sponsorship market in F1.

"For two years they will get no FOM money," he explained. "They then must be twice in the top ten of the world championship, so it means beating only Manor but that will be difficult enough.

"And the sponsorship situation, especially for teams at the back but also those further forward, has changed completely. It is nothing like how it was 10, 15 or twenty years ago," said Kolles.

Former Mercedes motor sport chief Norbert Haug agreed that while it is good for F1 to have another name above the garages, Haas has many lessons to learn about the sport.

A big problem, he thinks, is that Haas is currently spread across the globe, with operations in America, England and Italy.

"I think sooner or later they will focus on being in England," said Haug.

And David Richards, who ran teams for Benetton and BAR-Honda, also predicted that Haas will get a "rude awakening" once the 2016 season begins in March.

"It's December now and the first test is at the end of February, but we haven't seen anything yet," he told the British broadcaster Sky.

"We haven't seen the little snippet picture you normally see of a wind tunnel model. I haven't really heard of a group of people behind it all either. It's been a very quiet and they definitely have a rude awakening coming up about what F1 is," Richards added.