The Haas F1 Launch: One Surprise

With the launch of the new Haas F1 team car this week, the lack of sponsors represented on the car other than the primary “Haas” branding came as a surprise to some.  However, it looks like team owner Gene Haas meant what he said back when he announced plans to form a Formula One team:  That is, he would use it to promote and sell his company’s Haas Automation CNC machines around the world. 

When one thinks about it, this has merit.  Formula One is a truly global marketing platform for companies and brands, and Haas Automation is looking to grow globally. 

A lot of folks spoke about what a great thing it was to have an American F1 team competing in the series and how it would raise the level of fan and corporate interest in the sport within the USA.  Well, it may well do that. But then again, it may not….  The shaky USGP in Austin shows that companies can’t rely on a regular race in the U.S. to activate an F1 promotional program… 

The second clue that Haas wasn’t going to primarily focus on promoting his company in the U.S. was the signing of definitely non-Americans Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez as drivers.  Then came yesterday’s livery presentation.  

Haas has his NASCAR Haas Automation branded car and team to leverage selling CNC machines in the U.S.  What did he need to spend millions extra on an F1 team to do the same? 

So, it looks like the much discussed U.S. corporate sponsor(s) that would take advantage of the global marketing platform the new Haas F1 team offers is, well, Haas Automation itself!  

There may very well be more commercial partners coming on board, as the cost of fielding a competitive F1 team is substantial.  The opportunities for global brands to successfully leverage the F1 commercial platform are many.   Whether U.S sponsors sign on with Haas or don’t, I suspect Haas will be opening up new sales channels for its CNC machines in the 19 countries and one principality of the world outside the USA where F1 competes.  I’ll be watching and supporting them closely!