<
>

Haas targets driver signing by September from shortlist of 10 drivers

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The new Haas F1 team is hoping to sign at least one driver within the next month and is currently talking to a shortlist of ten candidates.

Speculation over the team's 2016 driver line-up has been rife over recent months, with Haas revealing little more than it is looking for an experienced pair of hands in one of its cockpits. The team's technical partnership with Maranello means Ferrari reserve drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne are high on the list of potential candidates, but Nico Hulkenberg is also believed to be in contention as well as American GP2 driver Alexander Rossi, who is an obvious target because of his nationality.

Team principal Guenther Steiner is targeting a decision by September in order to benefit from driver input on next year's car.

"We are talking to about ten people, some are higher up the list and some are lower, but we also want to wait and see who is out there," Steiner said in a video on the team's YouTube channel. "It's still difficult to find out who is available because it hasn't been decided who is going where yet.

"Everybody is talking, but it's not only talking from our side, the people are talking back to us and they are trying to sound out what would be available. It's about getting in touch with people, most of them we know anyway from before.

"I think we would like to make a decision for the end of the summer because then we can get prepared for the driver and the car needs to fit the driver. We would have time also to explain to the driver what we are doing because we are new and he needs to help us as well. What does the driver want from us to get ready?

"By September I hope we have the decision for at least one if not two drivers, ideally it would be two. We have got interesting candidates, which is very nice for us. We have drivers with a good reputation who are talking to us seriously and I hope we can pull a deal off with some of them."

Steiner said Haas has to prioritise experience with at least one of its drivers as the team will need a lot of guidance in its debut year.

"It was a good response when we contacted them and nobody came back saying it is new and they don't want to go there. It's like 'Hey, tell me what you are doing, it sounds like a good programme Mr Haas has put up here'. Experience and speed is always going to be very important for us, but experience for sure is very important.

"We are a new and we need to be self-conscious that we need some known quantities because everything else is new. The whole team is new people put together and with the first car we make there will be a lot of unknowns, so we need a known quantity in there who can tell us, 'I think the car is good, but this part of the team doesn't work' or 'The team works good and I have good relationships with my engineers, but the car isn't good'.

"We need somebody who we can show us where we are and we need experience. If experience is coming with speed, even better."