Motor racing: Money could influence Haas F1 driver lineup for 2021

Motor racing: Money could influence Haas F1 driver lineup for 2021

LONDON (REUTERS) – US-owned Haas will have a new Formula One driver line-up for 2021 after announcing the departure of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, and money could play a part in deciding their replacements.

Team boss Guenther Steiner told reporters in a video conference at the Portuguese Grand Prix that the team had plenty of options but he did not want to talk about any names or numbers on the short list.

Frenchman Grosjean, 34, has been at Haas since 2016 with Danish driver Magnussen, 28, joining in 2017 but both are now looking likely to quit the scene with few openings elsewhere on the grid.

Asked whether the Ferrari-powered team, ninth in the standings, might look for a driver with financial backing, Steiner said talent was more important.

“But some people have got sponsorship they bring with them so we are looking at all the options out there as well,” he added.

Russian Formula Two driver Nikita Mazepin is the son of a billionaire who tried to buy the Force India team, now Racing Point, in 2018 before the eventual sale of assets to Canadian Lawrence Stroll.

Mexican Sergio Perez, who is leaving Racing Point at the end of the year, also has strong sponsorship and plenty of experience.

Ferrari are meanwhile looking to place some of their young drivers, with Michael Schumacher’s 21-year-old son Mick leading the Formula Two championship and a strong candidate for Haas or Alfa Romeo.

Britain’s Callum Ilott, another Ferrari Academy driver and second in the F2 standings, had been due to take part in Friday practice with Haas at the Nuerburgring two weeks ago but that was prevented by bad weather.

Steiner said the decision to replace Grosjean and Magnussen at the end of the season was made two to three weeks ago and the drivers were informed last week.

Thursday’s announcement, he said, was timed to help them.

“We could have kept it for us for a while, and then just do it. But I think the guys were good with us in the last years,” he said.

“If we tell them only whenever we decide who is going to drive the car, it could be the end of the year, and they would have a lesser chance to find something for next year.”

Magnussen tweeted that he was still working on plans for the future and wanted to go out on a high.

Grosjean posted a message saying “the last chapter is closed and the book is finished”.