Haas have taken a leaf from Jenson Button’s book in that they’ll only talk about driver changes in September, once the European chapter of the calendar has concluded.
So far, Haas must judge their season as a good one. Romain Grosjean has scored all of the American’s 28 points, whilst Gutierrez continues to threaten, with three 11th place finishes his best so far. Going into 2017, Haas team principal Gunther Steiner has made it clear that discussing 2017 drivers would only go to disrupt the harmony within the team.
“I’ve spoken specifically with Gene [Haas, owner], and we’ve said we’re not talking about drivers, or what we are doing, until the European season is over. It’s a distraction. In the end we know what everybody can do, but we need to see a little bit more, and where we want to be.
As a team, what do we want to achieve next year? There is so much unclear as to where we are. But as soon as the European season is over we need to start to make decisions, get things moving.
We actively do not want to talk about drivers until the European season ends because it would lead to opinions being put there people would misinterpret.”
– Gunther Steiner
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) July 15, 2016
So far, Grosjean has done enough to justify a second season in the Haas, leaving Gutierrez the most likely of the two to be replaced for 2017.
Current GP3 Championship Charles Leclerc has impressed Steiner so far and has a few more practice sessions left to advertise his talent to the team. Steiner said of the young Frenchman,
“He told us what he felt in the car, just as any driver would do, but he was very cool about it. He was excited, but he didn’t show it – who wouldn’t be excited to be driving an F1 car at 18?
He was very professional, he did a good job, and he showed he can do it. There’s nothing easy in Formula 1 if you want to make it. We’re not going to make it easy, we know what he has to do. Now he has done this, next time he will want to do more and we will expect more.”
– Gunther Steiner
Leclerc will be driving for Haas in Practice One in Hungary on Friday, and this will be the time for the Frenchman to step-up. Gutierrez will be watching the data like a hawk.