Formula 1 Switzerland: On fast axles

Author / Editor: Luca Meister / Rosemarie Stahl

Machine operators and technicians love car racing, most of all Formula 1. That a perfect symbiosis can occur between them is shown by the Haas F1 Team. Owner Gene Haas came to Switzerland on a visit.

Machine tools and Formula 1: This is how it looks when Romain Grosjean, who used to work for a bank in Geneva till recently, accelerates at the Australian GP.
Machine tools and Formula 1: This is how it looks when Romain Grosjean, who used to work for a bank in Geneva till recently, accelerates at the Australian GP.
(Bild: Haas)

This year onwards, the red writing with black outline can be seen not only on machine tools in production halls, but also on the Formula 1 circuits. Besides the Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez, the French driver Romain Grosjean born in Geneva is also a member of the US-led Haas Team. And what is most remarkable: In the last 14 years the team has recorded the best start for a Formula 1 newcomer.

In Monza, Haas went in with a new engine, a new turbo, a new MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit Heat), a new MGU-K (Motor Generator Unit Kinetic), a new underbody and a new rear wing at the start. At the Italian Grand Prix, Grosjean finally grabbed the 11th position. In the ranking list (at the time of going to press) he is now in the 13th position with 28 points – a top class result for a beginner team. Günther Steiner, Team Manager of Haas sums it up: “We had an extremely good start and then fell back to the middle. All the participants were so close to one another, it is difficult to find out where we actually stand.” In the first four races, Grosjean drove at the 3 points position, including Position 4 in the Russian Sochi.


In the vicinity of Formula 1 circuits

In the week before the GP in Monza, Romain Grosjean along with Gene Haas, Founder of Haas Automation and Team Manager Günther Steiner took time off their busy schedules to visit the Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) integrated in URMA AG in Rupperswil. The Formula 1 trio exchanged views with the invited guests and eventually visited the showroom of the Haas vehicles.

Although the HFO network is not an official technical resource of the Haas F1 Team, there can be no doubt that it must be a very reassuring feeling to know that such a qualified technical competency is always available in the vicinity for the tests or the racing weekends. Jens Thing, Manager of Haas Automation Europe, says: “In February when the racing car ‹VF-16› was tested on the de Barcelona - Catalunya circuit, the team reached the conclusion that changes would be necessary in the impact wrench nuts and in further box equipment. The HFO in Barcelona, which is only 30 minutes away from the racing circuit, took a vertical five-axle processing centre ‹Haas UMC-750›, a CNC lathe ‹Haas ST-30› and a vertical processing centre ‹Haas VF-2›, to revise and produce the required components. These were then delivered immediately to the racing circuit, so that the team could complete its test drives.”

When asked whether an HFO can again be requested for technical support like the Spanish HFO during the pre-season tests, Thing asserted that it is only a matter of time: “In this case, other F1 teams probably had to manage with what they had, or with parts delivered from their own workshops. In contrast, the Haas F1 Team knows, just like other customers, that the distance from the next HFO anywhere in the world is always just one hour. This knowledge must be very reassuring.”

The steep climb of Gene Haas

Since the foundation of Haas Automation in 1983, the company has developed into one of the biggest machine tool manufacturers of the world. The company which is based in California employs 1300 employees and exports approximately 60 percent of its annual production to more than 60 countries. Haas has installed nearly 185,000 CNC machine tools all over the world. These are managed by a network of 170 factory outlets and nearly 3,000 technical education centres. Seven new centres of this type have been opened in Europe since the beginning of 2016. All factory outlets offer delivery on the following day and have extensive stocks of spare parts as well as service vehicles.

The steep climb of Haas Automation is also reflected in the efforts on the racing circuit. Gene Haas built a Nascar team in 2002, which is popular as the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Today this team owns four vehicles in the top-class series of Nascar Racing and boasts two master titles as well as more than 30 individual victories. The philosophy which led Stewart-Haas Racing to success is also being used at present by the Haas F1 Team.

The Paddock magazine considers Gene Haas to be one of the 100 most influential persons in Formula 1. When he came 30th in his first race, Paddock asserted: «Gene Haas – First time in F1 in 2016, but a professional of the car racing sport who has been involved in Nascar Racing for many years now. This year, his Ferrari partnership offered him a clever chess move which allowed his Team to get into a class in the first year itself, which actually appears to be a big number.” Some time back, Time Inc. listed Haas among the ten most influential persons in the vehicle area in its magazine «The Drive».