Although Guenther Steiner has not officially ruled out Mick Schumacher continuing with Haas into next season alongside the already-contracted Kevin Magnussen, he is making no secret of the fact that discussions are or will be ongoing with several other drivers.
The shortlist has been said to be “three, possibly four” drivers. Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Antonio Giovinazzi – who is doing FP1 sessions for the team in Monza and Austin – are believed to be in contention.
“For sure that cockpit is more interesting than it was last year,” says Steiner.
“I remember when we let Kevin and Romain [Grosjean] go at the end of 2020 and I said ‘guys, you probably don’t want to be here in ’21 because it’s probably going to be a very disappointing year’.
“Now the car is much better and I think will get better over time, too, so obviously we are a much more interesting opportunity.
“But we are not in a hurry to make a decision.”
Asked what the criteria would be from the team’s perspective of its preferred choice, Steiner said: “We have to make the choice based on who is best for the team, not just who I personally want. What is best for the team’s future, and that will come out of the dialogue.
“What do you want to do? A riskier version? A safe version?
“What we are looking for is someone to bring the team forward. Is that a really fast driver or a solid driver who can help drive the team forward? Someone who has high peaks or someone more able to help us develop?”
Hulkenberg’s reputation for speed has only been enhanced by his super-sub appearances for the Racing Point/Aston Martin team and it will be recalled he qualified an impressive third-fastest at Silverstone standing in for Sergio Perez in 2020.
He was also able to out-qualify Lance Stroll in Bahrain this year, standing in for Sebastian Vettel, with no prior seat time.
Ricciardo’s stock has been damaged by his disappointing stint with McLaren over the last two seasons but his long experience there and with Red Bull and Renault – all much bigger teams than Haas – would give him knowledge and insight which could be valuable to a still-developing small team such as the American outfit.
Although Giovinazzi is believed to be a contender also, Steiner cautions against reading too much regarding 2023 into him doing the Monza and Austin sessions in the coming weeks.
“That came from a request from Mattia [Binotto, Ferrari F1 boss] a couple of weeks before the summer break,” he says.
“Mattia wanted him to get seat time because he is Ferrari’s reserve driver and I thought ‘why not?’ because it would give us an experienced driver to give us feedback on the car other than from Kevin and Mick.
“It might be useful.”