Haas F1 team boss, Gunther Steiner, has created a bit of a Twitter backlash today for his comments about having an American driver at the American team:
“It’s not on top of our list.
“It’s on top of our list if there’s a good one. Obviously, we want one.
“But then maybe, if there is a really good one, would they come to us?
“Just having an American driver who maybe cannot compete at a certain level is maybe not good for the sport.
“[Signing an American driver] would be an ambition, but at the moment there is nobody ready for F1 in the United States in my opinion.”
The team retained Santino Ferrucci, the 19-year-old American GP3 driver, last year as their reserve driver but with a statement such as Gunther’s one wonders if he does not see something in the young driver that would indicate he is ready for primetime.
As American fans of F1 know, whenever the idea of American drivers comes up, Alexander Rossi comes to mind as he has been there and done that. Many other fans think Josef Newgarden might be an option but Steiner says he would struggle in F1 and you need look no further than Graham Rahal’s Twitter account to see what he thought of Gunther’s statement:
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) January 12, 2018
So Santino isn’t an option, Newgarden would struggle and no mention of Rossi. F1 has created this notion that new drivers should be Max Verstappen-ish in age and Williams listened by signing 18-year-old Lance Stroll.
The last American was Rossi in 2015 and before that it was Scott Speed but it’s been crickets and tumbleweeds since. Do you agree that Newgarden isn’t an option? Do you agree with Graham Rahal? Or do you believe Gunther is correct? There is a lot to consider other than just being offended. European drivers have a different approach to junior-level racing from an incredibly young age and they aren’t doing ovals.
You have to also consider the money component and the pay-driver format so prevalent in F1 these days. Maybe Gunther knows there aren’t many or any American drivers with enough backing.
For me, I tend to agree with Graham, I think there are American drivers who can compete but I am cautious because the team isn’t looking for an also-ran like Scott Speed, they are looking for another Mario.
Hat Tip: Autosport