Why the Maserati-Formula One reunion is needed

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As the world of Formula One turning their eyes on the new Sauber-Alfa Romeo partnership, the first time the Italian car maker name coming back to the World Championship since 1987 (last partnering Osella as an engine supplier). If the Alfa Romeo name coming back wasn’t enough. Just a few days later, reports were coming of the Haas camp of a possible sponsorship deal with Maserati for the 2018 season. Thus setting up a rather interesting looking grid for the upcoming year, in terms of branding. 

But in the situation that Maserati and Haas joining forces. The deal will be significant for not only both parties, but also will be a major point in the championship for years to come.

So, why the Maserati-Haas deal is that important?

THE NAME ITSELF

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Maserati is no stranger to the Formula One world, having competed during the pre-war Grand Prix era with limited success; as the team was often overshadowed by Bugatti, Alfa Romeo and the superior German Engineering of both the Silver Arrows by Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz. 

With the inception of the Formula One championship, the team from Modena competed as a works team from the inaugural season in 1950 until shutting down due to financial difficulties in 1958. While privateers using Maserati cars until 1960, the name didn’t vanish from Formula One until nine years later.

As one of the Big Three Italian manufactures in the early years of Formula One with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. Maserati achieved broadly success by winning the Drivers’ Title in 1957 with the great Juan Manuel Fangio, the last ever world titles the Argentinian won.

Fangio driving his Maserati 250F on his way to victory during the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix (Pic: primotipo.com)

Fangio driving his Maserati 250F on his way to victory during the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix (Pic: primotipo.com)

This is what Liberty Media is looking for, a name that has been in Formula One before, a name that has achieved success in the highest level of motorsport. Chase Carey and his team wants to honor the roots of Formula One, so it is reasonable to bring a well known name back. 

 

Chase Carey and his team would like Maserati back to honor their roots with the Italian marque (Pic: crash.net)

Chase Carey and his team would like Maserati back to honor their roots with the Italian marque (Pic: crash.net)

It is what the sports want, it is what the fans want as well. Having the name Maserati back to the World Championship will fits right into the plan that Liberty Media wants for the future of Formula One. 

THE CURRENT SITUATION

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Before entering Formula One, Haas F1 team signed a technical partnership with the red Maranello scuderia ahead of the 2016 season. Thus became the unofficial Ferrari “B” unit, which was clear as Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi test driving for the American outfit while also serving in red for Ferrari as well.

Haas is a decent mid-field team but lacks sponsorship investment. Haas mostly funded by Gene Haas himself and his company. Adding to that is Microsoft for software partnership (from their alliance with Romain Grosjean), clothing company Bestseller (with the brand Jack & Jones by Kevin Magnussen), Alpinestar for race gears and watchmaker Richard Mille.

The lack of sponsorships can be seen clearly on the Haas VF-17 (Pic: automobilsport.com)

The lack of sponsorships can be seen clearly on the Haas VF-17 (Pic: automobilsport.com)

Although team boss Gunther Steiner unconcerned about the lack of sponsorship opportunity, during an interview with GPUpdate.net in March this year during the preseason test, he said:

"Would we have hoped to have a little bit more (on the car)? Sure. But we are fortunate that Haas Automation sponsors us, so we don't live on sponsors, we can survive without that. 

"We will try to get sponsors on the car, but it's a difficult market."

Haas' boss Gunther Steiner seems unfazed about the sponsorship situation at the moment (Pic: Formula One)

Haas' boss Gunther Steiner seems unfazed about the sponsorship situation at the moment (Pic: Formula One)

Steiner sounds confident about Haas position in Formula One, but it could come back to bite him. McLaren has been without a title sponsor since the 2013 season, when Vodafone decided to terminate their relationship with the Woking team. Since then, the team has gone through different sponsorships and staying afloat thanks to the generosity fundings from Honda during their dismal team-up. 

And it has been a concern for McLaren’s boss Zak Brown upon his appointment to lead the team. Haas might soon follow the path that McLaren is on if it is not careful on the team own future longevity in the highest level of motorsport competition.

Haas might wants to be careful if it doesn't want to follow the steps of McLaren (Pic: F1technical)

Haas might wants to be careful if it doesn't want to follow the steps of McLaren (Pic: F1technical)

Interestingly, Haas might not look too far to see an example on the lack of sponsorship. Haas F1’s American brother in NASCAR (Stewart-Haas Racing), found itself in serious trouble last season with two of its four drivers finding a hard time getting sponsors to run on their car. 

Car #10 of Danica Patrick suffered major setback when the car’s main sponsor Nature’s Bakery decided to pull out before the season started in Daytona. After a dispute with the sponsor, they would agree to sponsor four races split between the #10 and #14 car (which we would be focusing in one moment). Although Patrick completed the entire campaign, she was forced to end her full-time driving career after didn’t find enough sponsors for her ride. The #10 car was taken over by Aric Almirola, which his signing was point out because of his major backing from Smithfield oods that moved with him from Richard Petty Motorsports. 

Car #14 situation was not as dire as the #10 car but it did raise an alarm for the SHR camp. The team was considering disbanding either the #10 or #14 car and merge Bowyer's with the #10 sponsors. enabling him to run a full campaign. Luckily, with Almirola coming in the #10 car, SHR can still operates their four cars lineup. 

 

Danica Patrick and SHR sponsorship blunders can be a learning lesson for Haas F1 (Pic: Zimbio.com)

Danica Patrick and SHR sponsorship blunders can be a learning lesson for Haas F1 (Pic: Zimbio.com)

On Maserati side, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ CEO Sergio Marchionne is tempting with entering the Formula E championship with one of its brand. Although they expressed interest, there are no further development even reports of their entry being considered by Formula E. Despite the joining of both Mercedes and Porsche (with later inclusion of Nissan replacing Renault). Given that Ferrari is no longer part of FCA, but Marchionne serves as CEO for both companies and given the position he is in. He will be able to facilitate a deal to put the brand in a major motorsport championship under the influence of Ferrari.

Maybe, Formula One might be the better solution that Sergio is looking for and ties the knot with Haas, completing a deal similar with Sauber. Formula One still has much better popularity than Formula E and the tie up with Haas would serve perfectly to bring his brands name back onto the big scene. It will be Maserati’s first involvement back in motorsport since the unsuccessful MC GT3.

Maserati Formula E Concept (Designer: Tim Holmes Design)

Maserati Formula E Concept (Designer: Tim Holmes Design)

The team from Kannapolis is in an interesting situation unlike Sauber, who was in desperate need for further financial backing. Haas is still able to operate for some years to come. The Sauber-Alfa Romeo deal was a foregone conclusion, Haas meanwhile, anything can happen. One thing for sure, the results will be significant.

THE IMPACT

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If Maserati and Haas joining forces together, it will be a win-win situation not only for both parties. But many other parties can profit as well. 

For Haas, the deal will strengthen their relationship with the Maranello camp and creates more exposure for the team in terms of generating sponsorships opportunity with the Maserati name on its engine rather than Ferrari.

Maserati reunion with Formula One will also enjoys a huge PR boost from the tie-up and complete Marchionne’s visions of bringing back the legendary and classic brands back into Formula One again after being out of the sports for decades.

Haas-Maserati 2018 Concept (Designer: Sean Bull Design)

Haas-Maserati 2018 Concept (Designer: Sean Bull Design)

Liberty Media can profits from the deal as well. B getting Maserati with Haas, plus Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo joining Red Bull and Sauber respectively. It is going to generate an amount of interest from fans back into the sports and getting more viewers as a result. Which has been fading for a few years now. The fans will be able to enjoy seeing three famous car brands coming back to the World Championship again. 

Not only that, the partnership can further ignites other manufactures’ interest in joining Formula One not only on sponsorship and technical fronts. But also might be influential towards the future engine rule changes in 2021.

 

With Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and the possibility of Maserati joining in, the future of Formula One looks bright (Designer: Sean Bull Design)

With Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and the possibility of Maserati joining in, the future of Formula One looks bright (Designer: Sean Bull Design)

THE FINAL VERDICT

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While there are only reports of a possible future partnership, the idea of Maserati reuniting with Formula One is an interesting prospect. The tie up with Haas is something that is possible to achieve and will be influential towards the sports’ plan to move forwards in the upcoming years. 

We will not know about the deal behind closed doors until some time soon. But one thing is for sure, there are more things coming ahead of us.