F1 newcomers Haas F1 will field a Ferrari reserve driver during their debut season in 2016 according to the team’s founder, as the American squad closes in on making its line-up announcement.
Despite being an unproven team, the Haas outfit has been linked with a number of prominent drivers over recent months, having stated that it wants at least one driver with prior F1 experience to help its development.
The latest announcement would suggest that Haas will field Esteban Gutierrez, with the young Mexican bring both marketing appeal in the US and appeasing Ferrari, with whom the team has a technical partnership as well as a powertrain deal.
Gunther Steiner, Haas Team Principal, spoke with Autosport about his team’s driver plans: “Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll have something to say. One of the drivers will be a Ferrari reserve driver and we’re looking for an experienced Formula 1 driver, a current driver. No rookies.”
The team has been linked with the likes of Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg – although the latter has put pay to the rumours by signing a new contract with his current team, Force India.
Steiner’s comments echo those of team owner Gene Haas, who has previously stated that the squad will not feature an American amongst its inaugural line-up:
“It would be great to have an American driver but there is no one who really makes an impression. I think America needs a better development programme that brings drivers to Formula 1”.
“It is a process. It’s about going back and forth and just learning how to dance with the different drivers and working out who is going to be with us. We did make an offer to one driver, which was declined. It’s a learning experience.”
The Haas F1 team will make its debut on 3rd April 2016 at the Australian Grand Prix.