Lotus driver Romain Grosjean has signed to race for Formula 1 newcomer Haas next season.
Haas has called a driver announcement press conference at its headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C. on Tuesday, with team owner Gene Haas and team principal Guenther Steiner present. Alongside the duo will be Frenchman Grosjean, who is to sever his ties with Lotus at the end of this season after what will be four years with the Renault/Lotus organization.
Although Haas is a start-up team, its reputation in motorsport in the United States, and more importantly its connections in F1 with Ferrari, have proven key selling points to Grosjean. Haas is to be powered by Ferrari, which will also be supplying a number of other components given the change in the regulations.
Given the resources and facilities at Haas, and Ferrari has built a power unit that is now pushing Mercedes, it is understood Grosjean feels his new team could be a midfield runner out of the box.
Joining Haas also opens up a door to Ferrari for Grosjean for 2017, as a seat will be vacant that year should the Scuderia opt not to renew Kimi Raikkonen’s contract. Ferrari took up the option in Raikkonen’s deal for 2016, but beyond that the Finn’s future remains uncertain.
With Ferrari serving as engine supplier and key partner to Haas, it will be able to draw on all of Grosjean’s data during his impending year with Haas and compare it to Raikkonen.
As to Haas’ second driver, all indicators are pointing to Ferrari test and reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez. Like with Grosjean, Ferrari would have a similar opportunity to place Gutierrez in its car in 2017 should his performances and data prove favorable.