Haas F1: No American drivers ready for F1

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:

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

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Tim C

I agree with Rahal . . . That’s a load of crap. There are drivers in Indycar and American sports car racing that would do fine in F1. Is there an American version of Lewis Hamilton out there? Who knows. But if an American driver isn’t given a real chance to prove himself/herself we may never know.


Really, not one capable? And then they think that a Mario was that good? He wasn’t, if anyone cares to remember, when he came into F1, certainly no Jim Clark. But Mario knew how to race, how to prepare, how to help the team, how to compete at every level. That’s why Chapman wanted him. Steiner is wrong… I’d rather see Rossi there than Romain (pronounced (roll the r) “ro-mehn”) who may be talented but he doesn’t know how to compete, how to be a team player very well.


Drivers with talent, racecraft and even race experience? Sure, Newgarden, Rossi, and even Rahal fit the bill to some.degree or another. Josef is at the top of his game and driving for the premiere team in the IndyCar paddock. I can’t see him leaving what appears to be a long and successful career to join a mid-pack F1 team for a shot at a few years in F1. Rossi is in a similar situation at Andretti and is poised to be their lead driver. Is it a shame that American drivers are routinely overlooked by F1 ladder series? Damn right… Read more »

Tom Firth

Yeah, on the point about US F4 and US F3, it does at least establish a ladder that focuses on the same technical aspects as series in Europe. The one thing I am a bit concerned about though is unless I misunderstood it… the US F3 is meant to be less powerful than International F3 as they are going to call it which will perhaps mean that US drivers which take that route may have an extra year on the ladder towards F1. So you might see US drivers doing US F4 then making the switch over to avoid that… Read more »

charlie white

Thank you, Gunther. Thank you for providing me a final reason not watching F1 in 2018. You work for an American F1 team, a rarity itself and you have an American boss. What better way to attract American eyes(and potential sponsors) to your sport and team by instantly alienating all of them by saying that. Bernie E. would be so proud.


Them’s fightin’ words, Steiner. Never say that around here. You’ll get challenged, hard. 50 laps at Sonoma, your best against our best. Winner gets the F1 drive. >:-(


It’s not reigning in hell or serving in heaven, but it’s a useful analogy. Because F1 is skewing to younger drivers, a young American driver has a tough choice. They could have successful long term careeer in IndyCar, or possibly face a short middling career in F1. And if you have lots of early success in Indy, you may have proven your self “worthy” of F1, but then why leave? If I recall correctly, Paul said he didn’t remember Daniel Ricciardo making big waves until he came to Red Bull Racing. He outdid Vettel at the age of 25. Josef… Read more »

sunny stivala

When “Daniel Ricciardo outed Vettel at age 25”. Googling and reading “How FERRARI (and Vettel) hustled Alonso, 10 Nov 2017” will solve the problem.


Many teams in F1 have long memories, and drivers from top flight single seaters have not been given the credit they deserve since 1993. In that year Nigel Mansell went from F1 to CART, and won the title. Meanwhile Michael Andretti travelled the other way, and was replaced before the end of the season.

Now while the McLaren that Andretti was driving wasn’t good enough to enable him to win the title, he certainly had the talent to get closer to Senna than he ever did.


Ha, I thought I read F1 is ‘dying’ and Formula E was the self proclaimed successor. (not that I believe it)
So maybe some young US hotshoes should go straight to batteries.. They probably use Haas CNC machines to make those too.

Tom Firth

I’ve had this conversation with John and Doug on our Indi podcast and in private several times in the past. Talent exists in the Americas, just as it exists in Asia-pacific and Oceania in abundance. The fact remains though and has for years that if you want to get an F1 drive you need to be in Europe to get noticed. That is as true of Ayrton Senna as it is of Mark Webber or Daniel Ricciardo. Newgarden did race in Europe but chose rightly for his career prospects to move to America. That slammed the door on F1 though… Read more »

sunny stivala

Good piece TOM.