Team owner Gene Haas sits on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. (Photo: Getty Images)

Team owner Gene Haas sits on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. (Photo: Getty Images)

On December 11 the FIA announced a formal tender process, with a very short lead time, suggesting that interested parties had already been in contact. Late last year there were rumours of a potential F1 project in the USA.

Today Haas said in a statement: “We have responded to the FIA’s ‘call for expression of interest’ regarding a Formula One entry on behalf of Haas Racing Development. We respect the FIA’s evaluation process and will share more details in the coming weeks.”

The deadline for expressions of interest was January 3, with February 10 noted as the closing of full formal applications.

Bernie Ecclestone said this week that he had been in contact with two candidates. However, three teams have started the process, with Haas joined by Stefan GP and a Romanian project involving former HRT and Force India team boss Colin Kolles.

The intention is that the Haas operation will be run by former Toro Rosso boss Guenther Steiner. The Austrian, who runs a composite facility in North Carolina – ironically very close to the site of the failed US F1 effort – was an interested observer in the paddock in Austin in November.

Haas, who sources say talked to Ferrari about running a customer F1 car two years ago if the rules would allow it, plans to utilise a Ferrari power train, and initially a Dallara-built chassis.

The 61-year-old Haas owns one of the world’s leading CNC companies, and also owns the Wind Shear wind tunnel, also in North Carolina, which has been used by F1 teams.

Meanwhile sources say that some state-owned companies are behind Romanian project, and that they have decided to pursue their own route after initially considering getting involved with an existing team.

While Romanian F1 veteran Kolles is involved, it’s understood that he will be a supplier rather than an owner or team principal. In effect he will do what he did with HRT, and base the team at his German facility, and lease its staff and equipment to the team.

Latterly Kolles has expanded to become a manufacturer, and this year his company is building an LMP1 car.

It’s worth speculating that one of the parties involved in the project could be Renault-owned car manufacturer Dacia, whose name could be used to badge a Renault F1 engine.