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Haas F1 Team not looking at American drivers for 2016

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Haas F1 Team is not considering racing with an American driver for its debut Formula 1 season according to team principal Günther Steiner.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas won the FIA’s tender for a new F1 team back in 2014, and will join the grid at the start of the 2016 season next April.

Haas will become the first American team to race in F1 since the unrelated Haas Lola team back in 1986, and will work out of bases in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and Banbury in England, with the latter being Marussia F1 Team’s former home.

Much has been made of the possible driver line-up at Haas for 2016. At least one of the seats is set to be filled by a Ferrari reserve driver, thought to be Mexico’s Esteban Gutierrez.

A number of American drivers had been linked with a role at Haas at a time when F1 is enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the United States.

However, in an interview with the official F1 website, Steiner revealed that the second seat will not be taken by an American.

“There is nobody out there at the moment,” Steiner said.

“Yes, there are drivers in GP2 and Formula Three, but having a rookie in a new team – that is difficult for both sides. The potential of such a partnership failing is pretty high.

“So at the moment we’d rather not be looking at that avenue, because you are also not helping an inexperienced driver – he could be burned in one season.

“We are new, so we need a known quantity in the team.”

The leading American candidate for a seat at Haas had been GP2 racer Alexander Rossi, who currently sits second in the championship standings.

Rossi has previously worked in a reserve role with both Caterham and Marussia, but is yet to make his full F1 debut, and therefore lacks the experience that Haas desires.

The team had targeted Nico Hulkenberg for its first season in the sport, only for the German driver to sign a two-year contract extension with Force India, taking him to the end of 2017.

With Gutierrez poised to take one of the seats, Haas’ shortlist for the remaining role includes Lotus driver Romain Grosjean and Ferrari development driver Jean-Eric Vergne, who both have at least three full years of F1 experience.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”