Gene Haas, owner of the Haas F1 Team, has said the American racing outfit is now “very stable”, financially speaking, as a result of them being prudent last year as the COVID-19 pandemic began to escalate and because they have signed Nikita Mazepin for 2021.
The 21-year-old is the son of Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, and it is understood that he will contribute tens of millions of dollars to the team each year as part of the two-year contract Nikita inked with Haas in December.
Commenting on the state of the team’s finances and how they handled the COVID-19 pandemic, Haas said he slashed the team’s 2020 budget in light of the emerging global crisis.
“Sometimes survival is a racing strategy, just trying to survive,” Haas said in an interview with RACER magazine.
“It really wasn’t difficult. Early on as a group we took the viewpoint that this COVID thing would be a bigger lockdown than when people said it would just be a few months and then go away.
“So we immediately shut down the spending monster of spending huge amounts of money, mainly because we wouldn’t be going to races.
“The most expensive part of going to races is usually freight and travel, so we shut a lot of that down almost immediately.
“We got a big saving there which was really helpful. So instead of us having a budget of $150million, it went down to like $80million and a lot of that… $35 million came from FOM and then more from sponsorship, so we actually did pretty good,” he added.
Continuing, Haas said “from a financial standpoint we are very stable” and added that he believes their approach means they will be in Formula One for at least the next five years.
“When we got in the middle of the global pandemic last year, Guenther [Steiner, Haas F1 team principal] and myself came to an agreement on ‘okay, how much money do we actually want to spend on this?’ I actually set a very lean budget,” Haas said.
“And quite frankly we actually scored more points [relatively] with a smaller budget than we did with a bigger budget. I just feel like maybe it was eating too much and sometimes being leaner, you can produce more results.
“So we leaned everything down and came up with a figure I was comfortable with, and Guenther agreed he could work within that.
“We changed our focus a little bit, we do have some well-backed drivers and I think from a financial standpoint we are very stable.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to. With the cards we have been dealt, we can’t sit there and win any hands here or bid up the pot, so our position is basically to hold on and see what the future holds.
“We’ve a lot of things changing in 2022 and 2023, so we are in holding type mode of ‘let’s see what we’re going to do here’.
“But we are also very financially stable. I didn’t have to mortgage my real estate or my race shop or any of that stuff.
“We are not doing what some of the other teams do and mortgage everything they have to go racing.
“We are just operating on the money and budgets we have and we can do that very successfully. So that guarantees us that at least we will be around for the next five years.”