Steiner rules out Leclerc 2017 F1 promotion

Charles Leclerc - Credit: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service

Guenther Steiner has all but ruled out giving Charles Leclerc his Formula 1 race debut in 2017, feeling the Monegasque driver would benefit from another season in either GP3 or GP2.

Eighteen-year-old Leclerc has participated in three practice sessions with the Haas F1 Team in 2016 at Silverstone, the Hungaroring and the Hockenheimring, and is currently leading the GP3 Series championship with just four races to go, but Steiner feels it would be too soon to promote him to the race seat next season.

“He’s too young, in our opinion,” revealed Steiner to “He’s very good, but I think it’s better to do another season in either GP3 or GP2.

“I have no say in his career, it’s [his manager] Nicolas Todt, and I think he agrees with me on that one.”

Steiner admitted that he is in no hurry to confirm next season’s driver line-up for the team, and although Romain Grosjean is expected to be retained for a second season, Esteban Gutierrez’s future is far less certain.

“We will be ready when we are ready, put it this way,” said Steiner. “We’re not in a big hurry, so we’ll just take our time.

“I think we’ve created a little bit of interest driver-wise, which is a compliment. A few people are speaking to us who maybe a year ago thought ‘why should I go there?’.

“The driver market is not very big with Felipe [Massa] and Jenson [Button] going, so there’s a demand there. It’s a good thing for the young drivers, we get some fresh blood in it, and some people can shine.

“Still people look around. Everybody thought that if one made the move, everything would happen, but nothing happened. It’s very strange.”