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.