Formula 1 and the HFO
Here’s something all Haas customers know: Wherever there’s a Formula One race, there’s almost definitely a Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) nearby. For the 2016 Formula One season, national HFOs, local to many of the 21 circuits around the world, are holding open houses, screening events, and race visits, allowing their customers to share in the excitement of Haas F1 Team’s inaugural year.
The HFO network provides Haas customers with local sales and technical support to a very high standard, as if they were dealing directly with Haas Automation itself. Each of the 170 facilities worldwide are staffed and equipped to requirements set by the U.S.-based company, with comprehensive spare parts, next-day delivery, service vans, and factory-trained technicians; all helping to ensure Haas CNC products are the best supported machines in the world.
Although the HFO network is not officially a technical resource of Haas F1 Team, there’s no doubt that having such capable engineering expertise close by, during testing or on a race weekend, can bring the team a little extra peace of mind.
“Back in February, when the Haas VF-16 car was being tested at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the team found some modifications were necessary to the wheel-gun sockets and other pit equipment,” explained Mr. Jens Thing, managing director at Haas Automation Europe. “The HFO in Barcelona, located just 30 minutes from the track, used a Haas UMC-750 5-axis vertical machining center, a Haas ST-30 CNC lathe and a Haas VF-2 vertical machining center to modify and produce the required components, which were then immediately delivered to the race circuit so the team was able to complete its test sessions.”
A few weeks later, in May, the Barcelona HFO held an open house to coincide with the Spanish Grand Prix race weekend. Managing director Andreas Le Noir welcomed almost 200 special guests to the event.
“We have worked with Haas for a long time and a lot of our customers are big fans of motor racing – especially Haas motor racing” Andreas said. “This was a great opportunity for them to share Haas’ involvement in F1 and to meet the team drivers -- Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez, along with Gene Haas and team principal Gunther Steiner.”
“Of course, it was also a great opportunity for us to show our customers the latest Haas machine tools” Andreas added. “Usually, during a normal working week, it’s difficult for customers to find the time to come to get away. This is different, though. Our race weekend open house was held on a Saturday after qualifying. Also, it was a more relaxed atmosphere. People were here as our special guests. They could enjoy the race and they could visit the HFO without having to think about work.”
The Barcelona open house event proved to be so successful that many other HFOs have similar events planned throughout 2016.
“Spending time with our customers over F1 race weekends is great fun,” says Jens Thing. “Machinists and engineers love racing, and F1 in particular. Some customers bring their colleagues and their families to these events. It’s a pleasure for us to get to know them better and it makes for a memorable event.”
On the subject of whether an HFO might be called upon to provide technical assistance – like the Spanish HFO did during pre-season testing – Mr. Thing thinks it’s only a matter of time: “In the event, other F1 teams would probably have to make-do or ship parts from their own machine shops. Haas F1 Team, on the other hand, knows that just like Haas customers around the world, they’re only ever an hour or so from the nearest HFO. That’s got to be reassuring.”