Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says signing Sergio Perez is not a no-brainer for the team despite the Mexican’s recent availability and significant potential backing.
Perez was dropped by Racing Point to make room for Sebastian Vettel in 2021, despite having had another two years still to run on his contract. With the 30-year-old now looking for a drive and with both Haas drivers in the final year of their deals, Perez — who has enjoyed significant backing from Mexican sponsors in the past — appears to be an attractive proposition but Steiner says it is not as simple as it looks.
“There is nothing out at the moment which is a no-brainer, because there are so many options out there at the moment,” Steiner said. “We need to try to make the best decision for the team mid-to-long term. Because immediately, we don’t have an issue but we need to see where do we want to go mid-to-long term. That is where the opportunity is.
“It’s not that we need some quick cash for next year — we are actually fine on that. It’s a mid-to-long term, how can we get better? How can we get the best out of the team? How can we get back to our performance of 2018 and better? I think there is more opportunity now with the budget cap coming from next year onwards and the new regulations for 2022. It’s a lot more complex…
“For sure Checo is a good driver; I would never doubt him, but is he the best for the mid-to-long term? I don’t know. That is what we are discussing and therefore it’s not as much a no-brainer as it seems.”
Although Steiner met with team owner Gene Haas twice since the last race in Mugello, he says no progress has been made in terms of a driver line-up decision for 2021, and is open to having discussions about running a Ferrari young driver.
“That’s more a Ferrari thing, if they ask us to help out. They are helping us out this year because we have got our issues with COVID, so they are helping us and in the end we helping each other. If they ask (about running a Ferrari young driver) I would be open to discussing it at least.”
Steiner added that the Ferrari technical partnership is also likely to be extended beyond the end of next season, when the current deal expires, out of loyalty despite recent performance issues.
“I’m a believer in loyalty and Gene (Haas) is as well. They were (central) in getting us here and they did a good job in doing that. Now they are in a little bit of difficulty, as we obviously know. I think it will hopefully be a short-term difficulty and they will get out of it but Ferrari always came back. To jump at the first opportunity when you get a hurdle in your way is not very ethical because without them we wouldn’t be here — I go back to that.
“Obviously we need to see other opportunities as well but the other opportunities are very difficult for us because we have got a part of our infrastructure in Italy, so we would need to move everything to England and that would not come for free. So at the moment for us the best solution is to work hard with Ferrari on the future and not get distracted. But by all means if a manufacturer wants to come up and offer us a free PU we are welcome to listen.”