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Gene Haas: Long-term F1 strategy not dependent on winning

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Gene Haas says his long-term strategy for owning a Formula One team is not dependent on it becoming a regular race winner in the future.

The Haas F1 team is entering its second year of competition after joining the grid in 2016, when it became the sport's first new team in six years. Much like its predecessor, the team's latest challenger, the VF17, has been rolled out emblazoned with the logo and colours of Haas' machine tool company Haas Automation.

One of Haas' main motivations for joining F1 was to take his company to a worldwide audience, with his NASCAR team -- co-owned with Tony Stewart -- focusing on branching out to an American viewership. The Stewart-Haas team claimed its first Daytona 500 victory last weekend, something Haas believes highlights the prestige that can come with participation in motor racing.

"I can't say what the future holds but at the moment, for me, I'm trying to advertise my company by doing the impossible which is participating in NASCAR [and F1]," he told ESPN. "Winning the Daytona 500 is an event that will put you in the newspapers in a way that people will recognise who you are.

"It helps sell machine tools because it gives us a prestige level you just can't get in advertising -- the same thing as in Formula One. It's just a unique way of reaching my customer base and I think it just works for me."

And Haas cites the attitudes towards sporting heroes -- in this case, four-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady -- as an example of how "doing the impossible" within sport can elevate status.

When asked if prestige from competing in F1 only came from winning, he said: "Well, it would be nice to win, but it's fundamentally a different message. If I compared it like a sports hero, you get a Tom Brady who is a Super Bowl guy or something like that, people start asking him questions about the world, he's a frickin' football player, but people start thinking he's a genius in everything he does. So doing something impossible bestows on you rights and privileges you just don't get by getting up there and saying 'I'm a genius'."

Though other racing series' such as Formula E and World Endurance Championship have reached an all-new audience in recent years, Haas has ruled out venturing into those categories as he does not think his product suits that kind of platform.

Commenting on the possibility of branching out to those series', he said: "I think Red Bull does a good job of that, they participate in air shows, motorcycle racing, and that gives them the image of an adventurer and that's how they appeal to young people and sell a lot of their products. I'm not trying to do that...

"If I had a bit more of a consumer product, something like World Rally Championship and some of those other series would make a lot of sense. But I have a high-end product so I'm kind of aligning myself with the two biggest automobile sports that I know, NASCAR in the States and Formula One for the rest of the world."

Asked about the possibility of doing them all, he laughed and said: "I don't have that much money! I don't have Red Bull's money... I just think I get more bang for my buck at the stand where I'm at, rather than trying to do it all."