Friday, October 16, 2015

Gene Haas Playing the F1 Engine Game?

How many competitors on the Grid will be seeing Red over the arrival of Scuderia Ferrari's new 'B-Team Haas F1 next year? (The Tomaso Collection)
By now, Y'all know that Gene Haas of Haas CNC Automation has been granted inclusion into the rarefied playground of Formula 1 upon originally being granted a Constructor's license to race in 2015, which Haas decided to defer 'til 2016...

Messer Haas, whose of NO relation to Carl Haas, an ex-IndyCar stalwart here Stateside  - who ironically was the last person to successfully campaign an American Formula 1 team, since I'll leave alone Kenny Anderson & Peter Windsor's stillborn US F1 programme, takes up the charge for us Yanks next season.

World's Largest Consumer still lacks Team, Drivers in Formula 1

As Gene has since long ago secured his allotment of la Scuderia's ever improving PU's, (Power Unit) which along with the 1.6-liter "Blown"  Ferrari V-6 turbo engine, will be kitted out with the requisite ancillaries needed to propel today's modern F1 chassis, i.e.; hybrid and turbo power generators, Gearbox, Batteries, etc - making his intentions clear last summer when initially announcing his new tie-up with la Scuderia, which began carrying HCN 'Deckle's (decals) upon its flanks at Silverstone.

During a late night's sleep deprivation, my cranium whirled over why Messer Haas would be so enraptured upon using Ferrari lumps in the back of his yet unknown chassis, since Mercedes is undoubtedly the engine to have. Although speculation then suggested that Haas was set towards becoming la Scuderia's semi 'B Team for 2015, which naturally now will begin next April Down Under instead.

Since previously,  scuttlebutt persisted over there   being as many as five Ferrari powered teams on the grid in 2016? With the likes of Ferrari, Sauber and Marussia, now Manor-Marussia F1 being joined by the still unconfirmed Forza Rossa and Haas Formula, as Y'all remember Forza Rosa right? Which has since gone by the wayside.

Alas, during this fitful lack of REM, my thoughts turned to wonderin' just how many "Customer" engine teams had been successful over the years? For which Grizzled Journo' Joe Saward, as always, has eloquently penned his story about how the Good 'Ol Dazes of Customer Engine Champions are long gone!

History denotes that Sir Blackjack (Jack Brabham) and the Cooper Climax won the 1959-60 titles with the revolutionary rear-engine machines, while 50yrs ago Scuderia Ferrari won the coveted manufacturer's crown with a variety of machines before Brabham was successful again with his Repco V-8's during the first two seasons of the normally aspirated three litre era.

Then came along an engine simply known as the DFV. Which would go on in history to become the second most famous powerplant ever! As the Ford bankrolled Cosworth designed and built DFV (Double For Valves) began life exclusively with Lotus in 1967 at Colin Chapman's insistence. As Y'all can't blame Chapman for his shrewdness, eh?

As the DFV truly defined the era of customer engines, as anybody could buy one and its supreme reign from 1968-82 was only interrupted by Matra's V-12 in 1969  and Ferrari's affinity for Flat 12-cylinder Boxer engines (1975-77, 1979) before the turbo's finally usurped the DFV power-wise.

Having first paid Homage to the ubiquitous Cossie' DFV 'Wayback in '07 when celebrating its turning the B-I-G' 4-OH!Which means  it'll shortly be turning 50; YIKES!

Then with Formula One's return to normally aspirated lumps' in 1989, Ford breathed life into the 'Ol Girl, as first the DFR was created and then ultimately 'DER TERMINATOR, nee Michael Schumacher gave Ford its final championship crown with the brilliant HB V-8, giving the Cossie' DFV Family a staggering total of 174 Grand Prix victories!

Yet with the reintroduction of turbocharged engines, albeit the vastly more complicated Power Unit variety; as I've already mentioned, Cosworth decided the money necessary to build a customer PU wasn't  worthwhile...

Ro-Ro! Looks like I've gone down another proverbial "Rabbit Hole" as Statmann' Caruthers would say; Hya!

Thus, with thee B-I-G' BULLZ', nee Red Bull and their  'lil Seester' team the 'lil bulls, aka Toro Rosso both almost certainly set to become la Scuderia customers next year, suddenly Ferrari will be supplying a massive five Formula 1 teams, i.e.; Haas, Red Bull, Sauber, Toro Rosso and themselves; YIKES!

Alas, whilst Sauber rightly is worried about being squeezed out and arguably demoted to a Battle Royale with Toro Rosso for "Second Best;" Err fifth fiddle in terms of Scuderia support, with the never ceasing rumblings of Haas being Maranello de facto B-Team'. Surely Haas will become third fiddle at best behind the rosso "Works" effort and multiple champions Red Bull, eh?

Meanwhile, while its apparently just a sign 'O the times, I must confess I find it somewhat disappointing that the engine choice has become skewed by the might of two predominant players, i.e.; Ferrari and Mercedes - whilst hopefully le Reggie will stay in the game, and Honda can move forward! Since obviously both Renault and Honda need to improve drastically!

Alas, while Gene Haas has apparently very prudently chosen the right engine, as surely Ferrari's PU will catch Mercedes, right? It seems a disturbing trend of engine manufacturer consolidation, especially if one of these two manufacturers decide to pull a BMW, Honda or Toyota! As in leave the sport, which will invariably happen.

And with the engine Questione out of the way, naturally Attenzione will focus upon who the team's drivers will be next year? As it seems like a crowded field fighting for probably one seat, which Team Principal G√ľnter Steiner doesn't sound "bullish" on having American F1 hopeful Alexander Rossi making the cut. Which would be a shame, especially with Rossi's current race winning performances in GP2...

As I'll expect Haas F1 to wait 'til at least Austin to announce Esteban Gutierrez as one of its two drivers for 2016 to wisely capture the marketing bonanza "Twinned" with Gutierrez''s home race a week later...