F-1 NOTES: Spending Cap Won’t Hurt Haas

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The upcoming budget cap for Formula One teams isn't expected to affect Haas F1 Team owner Gene Haas. (Andy Hone / LAT Images Photo)
The upcoming budget cap for Formula One teams isn't expected to affect Haas F1 Team owner Gene Haas. (Andy Hone / LAT Images Photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The reason the Ohio-born Gene Haas decided to field a Formula One team was to promote Haas Automation, the CNC machine tool manufacturer, around the world.

The team has had its ups and downs since it began racing in 2016, and Haas has spent millions.

The budget cap of $145 million, which comes into effect in 2021, will not be a factor in Haas deciding if he will continue to operate his F-1 squad. And there is a simple reason for that: the team does not spend that much even now.

“Formula One has done a good job in reacting to the situation and coming up with a plan that ought to be good for everyone in the long run,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said. “Gene (Haas) is happy, but the budget cap that has been agreed doesn’t really impact him, as we are already spending under that limit.

“What he needs to see is the new commercial agreement, which we should have next year, giving a more equitable return for the teams. This is the chance to change the situation we have now where if we don’t go racing for six months half the teams are in danger of going bust. Because, for sure, if anything like this happens again in the next five years and things don’t change, next time they will.”

– Sebastian Vettel is finding a lot of closed doors since he and Ferrari announced that they would part company at the end of the season. Red Bull, where Vettel won his four world championships, says it is firmly committed to Max Verstappen and Alex Albon.

The Mercedes contracts of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas expire this year, but both drivers will stay with the team. Bottas certainly is not worried about losing his place to Vettel.

“It doesn’t get to you,” Bottas told Sky TV. “We’ve been very honest about what the situation is all the time about contracts, and I got a pretty straight message that no, they (Mercedes) are not considering Seb. So I said fine, no worries then.”

About the only top team seat that might be available to Vettel in 2021 would be at Renault – a seat that Fernando Alonso is also eyeing.

There have been rumors that Vettel would make a surprise move to Racing Point, but CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer says that the only change in 2021 will be renaming the team Aston Martin, and the driver line-up will remain unchanged with Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez.

If Vettel decides not to retire, his best option would be a sabbatical and then he can reassess the situation for the 2022 season.