Haas aiming to confirm 2023 driver lineup before Abu Dhabi

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Haas aiming to confirm 2023 driver lineup before Abu Dhabi

Formula 1

Haas aiming to confirm 2023 driver lineup before Abu Dhabi

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Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner is hoping to announce his team’s second driver for 2023 before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but says it’s not guaranteed as he’s yet to make a final decision.

Mick Schumacher is out of contract at the end of the year and had appeared likely to be replaced after a number of expensive crashes earlier in the season, but has ironed out those errors and in recent weeks has been closely matched with teammate Kevin Magnussen. Nico Hulkenberg is understood to be the main candidate also under consideration, although Antonio Giovinazzi has run for the team in two FP1 sessions.

“I think we can wrap it up pretty quickly,” Steiner said. “Hopefully next week we can announce something, whatever we’re doing.

“Hopefully, that’s my objective, but I don’t promise it. I hope before (Abu Dhabi). When I say, ‘I hope,’ it’s not a fact.

“No (a decision hasn’t been made). It’s imminent. I’m pretty busy at the moment… I’m a slow thinker! We wanted to make sure that we take the right decision.

“There are no seats out there anymore; why would we be in a hurry to announce it? We need to do it before the Bahrain test next year basically, because we want to have the driver which drives next year in the car in the Bahrain test. That’s the only thing we want to do, and the rest we want to try to make the best decision we can, and sometimes time helps to make your decisions.”

The main consideration for Steiner is a longer-term view of the team’s progress after saying he’d needed to sign drivers for more immediate returns in the past.

“The future of Haas, of the team,” he said. “How’s best to develop the team for the future. It’s just down to that: what is the best decision for the team to move where we want to move. I think we will make a step next year with our car development. We have done a lot of analysis of what we’ve done wrong this year. How we can improve the team, that’s the only thing.

“It’s not down to one race, as a lot of people say it is: ‘Oh, if he has a fantastic race here’ – no. We just think about the mid-term, not just short-term. Short-term was a few years ago, now we need to take the team forward.”

Steiner doesn’t believe the uncertainty is an unfair distraction for Schumacher, regardless of the final decision over his future.

“It depends what the outcome is!” he said. “I shouldn’t be laughing, but it could be one way or the other. But race car drivers, it’s part of the job to deal with pressure. Obviously it would be better for all of us to decide after Bahrain this year what we’re doing next year, but we haven’t. It’s just one of those things and we have to deal with it. There is never a good time and never a bad time to make these decisions.”

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