Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner has refuted claims that Ferrari will exert any influence over Haas’ line-up for the 2018 season, putting a lid on rumours of a Ferrari-linked driver contending for the seats of their current lineup of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
While a season-best 6th place finish has alleviated some pressure on Grosjean, the Frenchman has suffered a stressful second year with the Haas team, with recurring brake issues originating from last year leaving him visibly frustrated multiple times this season.
This has led to speculation that one of the Ferrari-backed drivers currently involved with the American squad may move up to a full-time drive for next season. Reigning GP2 vice-champion Antonio Giovinazzi recently completed his first free practice session with the team at Silverstone – with another six appearances to follow – while former Haas development driver and Formula 2 championship leader Charles Leclerc has also been linked with a return to his former team.
Steiner was keen to extinguish any talk of lineup changes at the behest of Ferrari. “We are waiting a few more races, but we have control of our drivers [situation],” he told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
Grosjean has vented his fury at the often unpredictable Haas both over team radio and in front of the media, at one point even refusing to make any comments whatsoever following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Despite his openly critical stance at times, Steiner insisted this would not affect the team’s decision.
“Romain is sometimes criticised for how he gives his feedback during practice,” he continued. “We are okay with this because he helps us grow as a team. As long as it does not get personal.”
With Magnussen tied down to a two-year contract, Grosjean was left as the vulnerable driver in the situation of a Ferrari junior being parachuted in, but team owner Gene Haas has insisted the 31 year old will continue with the team for next season.
“We will run with the same drivers that we have this year again next year,” he stated. “That is a given. And given the other continuity aspects, we should be better racers next season.”