Mario Andretti calls on Haas F1 team to sign American driver

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Mario Andretti has urged Haas to sign an American driver to increase exposure for Formula One in the United States.

Haas is yet to confirm who will partner Romain Grosjean next season, with uncertainty over whether Esteban Gutierrez will be retained. Though young American driver Santino Ferrucci is signed on as a development driver Haas wants someone with experience for its second season in F1.

Alexander Rossi, who won the Indy 500 as a rookie this year for Andretti's son Michael's team, was previously tipped as a candidate after five races for Manor in 2015 but he has signed on for another season of IndyCar. Andretti thinks Haas has a responsibility to grow the sport in the States.

Speaking to ESPN about the lack of an American driver on the grid, Andretti said: "Having an American team there, maybe some of that will change and I hope they do sign an American one day because I think you have a vast fanbase here in the United States. Even for Formula One, I think it's understated. But I can see it really really magnifying if there was an American driver there, especially now there's the race at Circuit of the Americas."

"Alexander Rossi is one perfect example of one [American] talent being overlooked for some reason. He's done very well in GP2 and all that, he knows the circuits very well and has the experience. But when you're not considered by a top team there's no way you're going to be able to show what you can do."

Andretti thinks the lack of an American on the grid is a good argument for the introduction of guest drivers for team to run people with a local interest.

"My first Formula One race was with Ferrari as a third driver, a top team. Imagine if one of our talents, even Alexander, would have been invited by Mercedes to be third driver at some events it might have been another story, he might have shown differently.

"Now, having done quite a good season here in the States and having signed for another season with Michael, it looks like he didn't have any offers from a top teams [in F1]."

Team owner Gene Haas says there are no American drivers who fit the requirements he is looking for at the moment, suggesting he will only sign one after gaining the relevant experience at another team on the grid.

"If we had to do everything American, we wouldn't have enough money or enough time for anything," Haas told ESPN. "We're here really to build a race team. If an American driver came along to have the pedigree to do this, yeah, we would seriously consider that. But at the moment, there aren't any F1 drivers.

"You're always looking for experience. It's a driver's market right now because we've lost two very experienced drivers and the newcomers really don't have much experiences. There's lots of drivers out there but you take that chance of the unknown. There's a lot of people that can compete well in GP3 and GP2. They qualify well but racing in Formula One is a whole different sport."

Additional reporting by ESPN's Bob Pockrass