American teenager Santino Ferrucci will remain as Haas development driver for the 2018 Formula 1 season alongside a Formula 2 campaign.
Ferrucci originally joined Haas in 2016 and has enjoyed track time in its F1 car as part of his development driver role while climbing the ranks in junior series. Haas has now confirmed Ferrucci will remain in the role while he competes in F2 for Trident – having stepped up to the category from GP3 mid-season last year – and the 19-year-old believes his program this year will stand him in good stead to race in F1 in the future.
“I said it when I first became a part of Haas F1 Team – my goal since I began racing is to become a Formula 1 driver, and to be an American who is part of an American team is something I take a tremendous amount of pride in,” Ferrucci said. “My time with Haas F1 Team has really prepared me for my first full F2 season with Trident, and between the two teams I feel like I’m in the best position to succeed and, ultimately, get to Formula 1.”
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner was criticized for suggesting Haas is not ready to develop an American driver in F1 over the winter, but says Ferrucci’s role shows the team is keen to try and help U.S. talent reach the grid.
“I never had anything against American drivers, I just said it’s a very difficult environment to come in here,” Steiner told RACER. “We’re an American team and there are a few [American drivers] who are very vocal about it and they have a right to an opinion, but when have you seen the last Italian driver in a Ferrari, and for how long?
“In F1 we need the best drivers we can get that help the team, that’s why [Gene] Haas makes his investment. There is no American driver in F1 at the moment, so we can’t pick him.
“We support Santino as an American driver, the only one in F2 this year. We support him and we try to get talent in. At the moment he hasn’t got a superlicense anyway but it’s all growing. He’s doing the right thing, he races [in F2] and puts a lot of effort in – physically and financially – to achieve it.
“At some stage he will hopefully get there, and then we have got the options on him. So you see, we are doing something for the future.”