Haas assured everyone that their driver line-up would be confirmed after the European leg of the F1 season so an announcement is expected soon. Team boss Gunther Steiner has revealed some information about the teams driver line-up for their second season in 2017.
He said that,
We will be ready when we are ready, put it this way. We’re not in a big hurry, so we’ll just take our time.
I think we’ve created a little bit of interest driver-wise, which is a compliment. A few people are speaking to us who maybe a year ago thought, why should I go there?
The driver market is not very big with Felipe and Jenson going, so there’s a demand there. It’s a good thing for the young drivers, we get some fresh blood in it, and some people can shine. Still people look around. Everybody thought that if one made the move, everything would happen, but nothing happened. It’s very strange.”
– Gunther Steiner
Given that Romain Grosjean has scored all of the teams points this season, it is likely that the experienced French driver will stay with the team. Haas will want some degree of consistency given the mammoth task of aligning a project to the 2017 regulations in only their second season. Esteban Gutierrez is the driver that could be replaced. After to failing to score so far this season and publicly criticizing the team on a few occasions, it is likely that he will be replaced.
The most obvious candidate until now had been the promising Ferrari academy driver Charles Leclerc, who has had some outings in FP1 sessions, but Steiner put to bed this promotion to a race seat with,
“He’s too young, in our opinion. He’s very good, but I think it’s better to do another season in either GP3 or GP2. I have no say in his career, it’s [his manager] Nicolas Todt, and I think he agrees with me on that one.”
– Gunther Steiner
We think that the most likely team-mate for Romain Grosjean next season is Kevin Magnussen. Not only is he an experienced points scorer, his future at Renault is currently in question and the Dane was also Gene Haas’ secondary choice had they not successfully signed Grosjean for this season. In an interview from November 2015, Gene Haas said,
“We talked to Magnussen, who was a very good candidate.
He was very well respected by the McLaren team. In fact if Romain had declined we would have taken Magnussen as the primary seat.”
– Gene Haas
Given that Renault switched development to the 2017 campaign very early on, it’s unlikely that their current drivers are too happy. Kevin Magnussen has definitely been the stronger of the Renault drivers so far this season and the admiration from Gene Haas all but puts the Dane in a promising position to replace the out of favor Esteban Gutierrez for 2017.