SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Formula One commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone says a U.S. backed team headed by NASCAR’s Gene Haas is among two new teams the sport is likely to admit next season.
Speaking at Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Ecclestone said he had held discussions with FIA, the sport’s governing body, and there was agreement about expanding the grid next season.
“They will be accepted, and we’ve also accepted another team as well, although whether they’ll make it or not is another story,” Ecclestone said, when asked about a possible Haas entry.
“I’ve spoken to (FIA President) Jean Todt and we agreed yesterday.”
Todt confirmed the applications were being considered and said “in coming days we will make a final announcement.”
Those applying to join F1 will need approval from both FIA and the commercial rights holder, headed by Ecclestone.
The new entries may replace existing teams rather than add to the grid, as several of the current F1 teams continue to struggle financially in the exorbitantly expensive sport.
The other 2015 bidder is believed to be an Eastern Europe-based entry backed by Colin Kolles, who formerly was at defunct teams HRT, Midland and Spyker.
Haas is the founder of the Stewart-Haas NASCAR team based in North Carolina, and also operates one of the world’s most sophisticated wind tunnels for the testing of car aerodynamics, which will greatly aid any new F1 entry.
A possible barrier to Haas’ involvement in F1 is a fit-and-proper-persons test that the FIA applies to those involved at high levels of ownership and management. Haas has a conviction for tax evasion and related charges.
A U.S. team was initially admitted to F1 in 2010 but lacked the funding and development to join the championship.