It has been announced today that Gene Haas has confirmed that Jean-Eric Vergne, Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg currently top his shortlist to occupy the two race-seats at Haas F1 ahead of the team’s debut campaign in 2016.
Haas has spoken of his desire to sign drivers that have F1 experience, and Vergne and Gutierrez (who are Ferrari reserve drivers) and Force India’s Hulkenburg all fit what he is looking for. While Vergne and Gutierrez are not currently on the F1 grid, they have previously turned out for Toro Rosso and Sauber respectively.
However, Haas has said that he will not rush into any decisions as he wants to see what changes the other F1 teams make to their line-ups in the coming of months. Once those changes have been confirmed, he will then look to secure his drivers.
When asked in his interview today with the media about Vergne, Gutierrez, and Hulkenberg, Haas admitted that the trio were under consideration. Haas stated the following:-
‘We have a list of drivers in which we are interested in, but in the next few months there will be many moves in the (existing) teams’ lineups and we will wait to see who is interested in the project we are developing. Two of them are reserve drivers from Ferrari, so they are certainly a possibility.
‘As far as the other name that you mention, he is a driver from another team, so the possibility of him driving for us depends of his position with his team.’
It is clear that Haas has a few drivers in mind for when he enters F1 in 2016 and these are drivers who have experience in Formula One already. As Haas rightly states, there will be movements in the driver market in the next few months and he will have to see what happens with regards to the drivers he has in mind.
Further on in his interview with the media, Haas added that he would cast an eye over all the drivers on the grid, as he searches for a driver that is the right fit. Haas added the following:-
‘Anybody who is driving in a Formula One team right now, certainly, is someone that we would be interested in, if he becomes available,’
Overall, all you can say is that Haas has released a list of who he would like in the Haas F1 cars in 2016 and all of who he has chosen have experience in the sport which will prove very handy while the team is building a platform during the first few years of competing in the sport.
As I’ve stated already, I am very impressed with Haas and how he is approaching his arrival in F1 next season. He has experience in NASCAR and also of running the team and knows the implications involved in running a successful racing team. Haas has also secured a partnership with Ferrari and now announcing that he would like an experienced line up driver wise; you can only agree with him.
With regards to the drivers, any one of the shortlist would help the Haas F1 team find their feet in F1 but if I had my choice, I would go for Hulkenberg if he can be tempted out of his Force India seat. As this could be the chance that Hulkenberg needs to build a team around him that are capable of winning races and championships in the near future and there’s no doubt that Haas will get there sooner or later and prove his doubters wrong yet again.