Haas Formula 1 Team has confirmed that former Sauber driver and current Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez will take its second seat for the 2016 season, partnering Romain Grosjean.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas confirmed back in 2014 that he would be setting up an F1 operation, winning a tender put out by the FIA that year before setting his sights on hitting the grid in 2016.
With Haas F1 Team’s debut now less than five months away, its line-up has been completed as Gutierrez returns to a full-time drive after a year out.
“I got to know Esteban through our relationship with Ferrari, and after looking at the success he’s had to earn his role there, it became clear he was an excellent choice for our race team, Haas said. “He’s young and hungry, but not inexperienced.
“His two years running a full F1 schedule has given him some very good race experience, and having spent this season at Ferrari as their third driver allowed him to see firsthand the methodology that makes Ferrari such a power in Formula 1.”
Gutierrez expressed his delight about returning to a full-time F1 seat, believing that he and Haas can do great things together.
“This is an excellent opportunity that builds on my time with Ferrari and I will make the most of it,” Gutierrez said. “Gene Haas believes in me and I believe in how he’s going about competing in Formula 1.
“To have a race seat in a competitive car with Ferrari power is very special, and I appreciate the faith he has in me. I trust we’ll be able to achieve great things together.”
Gutierrez made his F1 debut back in 2013 with Sauber, spending two years with the team that yielded just one points finish (seventh in the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix).
After being replaced by Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr at Sauber for 2015, Gutierrez secured a reserve role with Ferrari for the new season, working underneath Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
As part of Haas’ technical partnership with Ferrari, the team always planned to race with at least one of the Italian marque’s reserve drivers, with Gutierrez getting the nod ahead of colleague Jean-Eric Vergne.
Last month, Haas announced Grosjean as the first of its drivers, signing the experienced Frenchman from Lotus.