Haas could open up US market for F1 - de Ferran

Formula 1 has the opportunity to make a significant breakthrough in the American market with the arrival of Haas, claims former driver and team owner Gil de Ferran.

Haas could open up US market for F1 - de Ferran
The Haas F1 Team headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C.
Gil de Ferran (BRA)
Guenther Steiner, Haas F1 Team Principal with Gene Haas, Haas Automotion President
The Haas F1 Team headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C.
Raffaele Marciello, Sauber F1 Team Test And Reserve Driver with Guenther Steiner, Haas F1 Team Principal and Claudio Albertini, Ferrari Head of Customer Teams Power Unit Operations
Gil de Ferran
Gene Haas at the Haas F1 Team headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C.

Haas is due to join the grid next year after forging a close technical partnership with Ferrari, which will be supplying engines and other car parts.

De Ferran, who has good knowledge of both American racing and F1, believes that the Haas name will be perfect for spreading awareness of the sport throughout the United States.

"It is going to raise the interest [in F1]," De Ferran told Motorsport.com. "You can see that there is always a certain amount of national pride that is associated with F1 drivers, F1 teams, or F1 constructors.

"The Japanese feel very strong about Honda's participation. The Italians likewise about Ferrari. In Britain, you can see everyone goes to watch Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. So there is always an amount of national pride.

"So given the fact that Haas has a heritage in US motorsport, it means there is already a following there. I think it will be good for F1, because quite frankly it is the one major market that F1 hasn't conquered to a high degree.

"I think it won't be achieved overnight, but having an American team will help. Having a successful American driver will also help."

Capitalise on opportunity

De Ferran believes that a breakthrough in the United States market will not be automatic, though, and it will need F1's chiefs to push hard to capitalise on the Haas opportunity.

"Look what happened when IndyCar went to Brazil," he said. "Of course you had Emerson [Fittipaldi] and guys like myself, Tony [Kanaan] and Helio (Castroneves]. So there were several years of Brazilian drivers in IndyCar, racing in IndyCar.

"For some years it had a very good TV package, then it had race in Brazil, and that is when it achieved its peak of popularity. There is no magic bullet – and there are all these elements that need to come together.

"At the end of the day you have to promote well. Even projects like Safe is Fast [of which de Ferran is an ambassador] – you see crossover between Europe and America. In reality, motorsport needs to attract people from everywhere."

Safe is fast

Safe is Fast is an online guidance programme aimed at helping young drivers further their careers in motorsport.

It offers online tutorials and gives rising stars the chance to get questions answered by leading stars and industry professionals.

De Ferran believe that such a programme has helped in accelerating the careers of many drivers.

"I wish something like this was around when I was starting, as you really had very little information then," he said.

"These are current guys talking about lots of thing: safety, driving technique and how to present yourself. It would have accelerated my career much quicker if I had had it when I was beginning."

 

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