Gene Haas: Still work to do to attract sponsors

Gene Haas believes his team still needs to prove it belongs on the Formula One grid before it can attract significant sponsorship.

Haas' debut campaign in 2016 was a mixed bag, finishing eighth in the championship but suffering a spate of issues throughout the year. At the start of the year Haas said he was "not desperate" to attract new sponsors when the VF-16 was unveiled and the team spent much of the season running a livery lacking partners beyond his own Haas Automation company.

Despite finishing above expectations in its first season Haas thinks this outfit still has a lot to prove before it can attract the sort of sponsorship it wants on the car, especially with F1's dwindling TV audience.

"We've had more interest and we're talking to a number of companies but we haven't put anything in hard writing," Haas told ESPN about sponsorship opportunities for 2017. "I think we will have a couple of associate sponsors but I think we still have to prove we can race at this level.

"Racing in general, there's some viewership issues, there's only a number of viewers you can provide to potential sponsors. So in general I think all racing venues have had issues in terms of sponsors and most of the teams you see here don't have any major sponsors yet except from the top three or four teams."

Haas became the first American team on the F1 grid for three decades and the team owner believes there has been a good response to its F1 project, both in terms of media and in the NASCAR paddock, where he runs his own team.

"There's always been a lot of interest from the NASCAR side about F1, I think there's a lot of curiosity frompeople who would like to come to the races and find out what it's all about because it's interesting. I've seen a lot of interest from people, individuals, who have encouraged us in what we're doing.

"It's obviously on a very small level but we've got a lot media attention, a lot of business contacts, I think there's been a fairly positive response to us in Formula One."