In an interview with the media today, Haas boss Gunther Steiner has ruled out the possibility of promoting Charles Leclerc to a full-time Formula One drive for 2017, stating a rookie is “not an option” for the team.
Ferrari protégé Leclerc leads the GP3 championship by 24 points with two rounds to go and has been linked with a race seat at Haas following his strong performances in the feeder series, as well as impressing during three practice outings for the American outfit in Britain, Hungary and Germany.
To stand any chance of gaining an F1 seat for next year, Leclerc must win the GP3 title in order to accumulate the 40 points needed to qualify for a superlicence.
When asked by the media today that if signing a young driver is a possibility for Haas, Steiner replied with the following:-
‘A rookie is not an option at the moment, it’s not the thing we want to do. I think in the position we are in, he [Leclerc] is too inexperienced. I wouldn’t say too young, I mean Max Verstappen does a good job, but it’s difficult that you get in two years two 18-year-olds that are rockets. But the main reason; we highly respect what Leclerc is doing in FP1, he was on the game immediately, but what we need is more somebody who can score points.’
Further on in his interview today, Steiner believes experience is key for Haas with new regulations on the horizon for 2017 and highlighted the reluctance of the team to sign Alexander Rossi at the end of last year, after the American took part in five of the last seven races for Manor in 2015. Steiner added the following:-
‘We need to train the team basically, we cannot train a driver. As I always said when I was asked last year about Alexander Rossi — that could break somebodies career. We are still relatively new next year, we are the second year, if we take a new driver and he doesn’t perform it could be us as well that don’t perform. Why would you take a risk? For sure take a risk if there is no other opportunity, so they take the risk, they would take it but then if it doesn’t work out for sure we would be blamed and that I think is not right.
‘We need to look after ourselves and make the team bigger so we are ready for young talent. We are in a good position to wait, therefore we are waiting because there is nothing moving a lot up that end.’