Esteban Gutierrez is set to be confirmed as Haas F1 Team’s second driver for the 2016 Formula 1 season next Friday ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new F1 team will finally hit the grid in 2016 after two years of planning, with current Lotus driver Romain Grosjean set to lead its charge after being announced as its first driver at the end of last month.
Ex-Sauber driver Gutierrez has been the favorite for a seat at Haas for some time given his current reserve driver role with Ferrari – with whom Haas has a technical partnership – and backing from Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex.
Speaking to NBCSN’s Steve Matchett, Haas confirmed once again that the second seat would be given to a Ferrari reserve driver, narrowing the decision down to Gutierrez and colleague Jean-Eric Vergne.
“It’s no secret it will be one of the reserve drivers at Ferrari,” Haas said. “There’s a lot of negotiations going back and forth. We’ll wait until the ink is dry.”
However, speaking to Sky Sports, Haas suggested that the deal was done, saying that there would be an announcement in Mexico City on Friday ahead of Gutierrez’s home event.
“We’re going to make an announcement in Mexico City on Friday night,” Haas said.
“I think you can work that one out.”
Gutierrez spent two years racing in F1 with Sauber, scoring six points in total before joining Ferrari as its reserve driver for 2015.
“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.
“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”
The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).
“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.
“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”
“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”
Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:
Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).