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Haas F1 entry may have to wait until 2016

(Reuters) - NASCAR team owner Gene Haas added some detail to his Formula One plans on Monday but left open whether he plans to enter next year or 2016.

The American, whose proposed new team was accepted by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) last week, told a news conference he planned to compete under the Haas Formula banner.

The 61-year-old California-based multi-millionaire said the team, which has yet to secure an engine partner, would have its main base in Kannapolis, North Carolina, with a satellite operation in Europe.

"I would like to do 2015, simply because I think the first year is going to be a difficult year no matter what happens," he said, hoping a decision would be made in the next few weeks.

"The FIA has basically told us we have to elect which year we want to participate in and I think there's a timetable sometime around June," he added.

Austrian Guenther Steiner, who has previous Formula One experience as a former Jaguar and Red Bull technical director, will run the team which plans to use a third-party constructor.

"We need to come up with a plan where we can basically arrive with a car...that's based on our partners' technology within the rules of the FIA," said Haas.

The obstacles will be formidable, with all the other Formula One teams based in Europe, as well as costly.

A previous attempt to enter a U.S.-based team, US F1, failed in 2010 without ever running a car.

The last U.S. team to compete in Formula One was Haas Lola, whose co-founder Carl Haas was no relation to Gene Haas, in 1986.

American teams have been successful in the past, however, with Dan Gurney's Eagle team winning the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix. Shadow, based initially in the United States, also won in Austria in 1977.

Stewart-Haas Racing won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2011 while Haas Automation is one of the world's largest machine tool makers and plans to use Formula One to promote the brand.

Haas also has the Windshear full scale rolling-road wind tunnel in North Carolina.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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