Buyout could see two American F1 teams on grid next season
According to Motorsport.com, a pair of American investors are close to buying an F1 team of their own. The prospect is reportedly being investigated by New York financier James Carney and Tavo Hellmund. The former name, shared (but not to be confused) with President Obama's press secretary, may be more familiar to most than the latter, but F1 insiders will point out that Hellmund was the driving force behind Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX, the United States Grand Prix held there, and the upcoming Mexican Grand Prix.
Together, Carney and Hellmund are said to be close to brokering a deal. Though the identity of the team has yet to be disclosed, sources point toward Manor as the most likely candidate. The struggling team – formerly known as Virgin and then as Marussia – has had a particularly tough go of it lately, scoring its first championship points last season before dropping off the grid in the wake of Jules Bianchi's critical crash. Manor barely made it back onto the grid this season, but has struggled to emerge from the back of the field.
The other US team is being started by machinery mogul and NASCAR team owner Gene Haas. It's set to join the grid next season as an expansion team, aided by a technical partnership with Ferrari and based (somewhat ironically) out of the Manor/Marussia team's former headquarters in Banburry, England. Haas has yet to announce which drivers it will retain for next year, but speculation points towards a potential American driver like Alexander Rossi, who dominated Formula BMW earlier in his career, has tested in F1 on six separate occasions, and currently competes in GP2 (where he sits second in the standings).
Coincidentally, the last American team to compete in F1 was called Lola Haas, but bore no relation to Gene Haas or his companies. The last American driver to compete in F1 was Scott Speed, who drove for Toro Rosso in 2006 and 2007 to unfortunately unremarkable effect, represented the United States in the A1GP series (pictured), and has since been competing in NASCAR, rallycross, and other disciplines.
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