Gene Haas has played down the importance of outside sponsorship in getting his F1 team off the ground – and says his machine tool company will finance the operation, at least at the start.
He also says he wants to make the team profitable.
“Initially Haas Automation will sponsor the team,” said Haas. “The goal here is to improve the branding of Haas Automation throughout the world. That is my primary goal. I don’t want to dilute that at the moment. But as time goes on, we’ll see how that works.
“Obviously, we have a business plan to make this a profitable enterprise over five years, and that will require some sponsorship to come in to do that. Initially Haas will bear that responsibility, but that will also be well-spent money in terms of improving product recognition. As time goes on, to run it as a Formula 1 team that actually does make money and can compete. So those are the long range, and short range plans that I have.”
Regarding the role of F1 in promoting his company, he said: “I spend a lot of time trying to figure out marketing. I build machine tools, and most people don’t even know what machine tools are so that’s a problem. But when it comes to our customer base, everybody wants to buy a premium brand. I think that’s what the goal here is is to associate ourselves with premium brands. I’ve always in the back of my mind have thought that Formula 1 is the premium brand in the world of racing. We’ve done very well with associating machine tools in racing.
“You know it may be similar to Red Bull and drinks. Red Bull is known for having a successful Formula 1 team, and I think it sells a lot of Red Bull for them. So in the same vein, I want to kind of create my own unique product association with Formula 1.
“It’s expensive to do it this way, but the other alternatives would be more media, buying more media or trade shows. Advertising more and going to trade shows more will never, ever increase your brand awareness. What I want to do is create a premium brand for Haas Automation so that when someone in a foreign country who is in the market or in the machine tool metal working market hears my name is going to think that these guys are in Formula 1. I know from Formula 1 that they must be a good product, because only the best compete in Formula 1.
“I want to associate that kind of thought process with the people that potentially could buy my product.”