DRIVER MARKET: Who will get the nod to partner Magnussen at Haas next season?
Haas have yet to confirm who will partner Kevin Magnussen at the team in 2023 – but they have whittled down the contenders. F1 Correspondent Lawrence Barretto assess who is in the running…
I understand Haas have got two clear contenders for the second seat, one of which is Nico Hulkenberg, a veteran of 181 Grands Prix. He’s had talks with boss Guenther Steiner about joining the team before, but they couldn’t reach an agreement on terms.
However, Haas are keen on avoiding running rookies based on recent experience and instead want a known quantity – and that has hauled Hulkenberg into the equation.
Sources say the 35-year-old has had advanced talks with the American team. Hulkenberg would certainly bring much needed experience and is considered by the team as a good short-term option.
The German last raced full-time in F1 in 2019 but has since made five substitute appearances - most recently for Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin in the opening two rounds of this season – and should be able to score regularly if the car is up to it.
A few months ago, Mick Schumacher’s chances of remaining at Haas were slim as he struggled for consistency. However, since the summer break the German has cut out the costly crashes and shown more peaks of performance, and that’s hauled him back into contention.
While there is a question mark as to whether he would score as consistently as Hulkenberg next year, the 23-year-old has more untapped potential in the long-term.
Haas have done the hard work in helping him acclimatise to Formula 1 and deserve to reap the rewards if Schumacher is indeed on the verge of some consistency. The German has certainly been more relaxed this year - and that’s allowed more of his personality to come out as well as easing the pressure when in the car.
If he is to have any chance of staying at the team for a third season, he must continue his upward trajectory and scores a few more points over the final five races. Haas are in no rush to make a final decision, allowing Schumacher time to prove his worth.
If it’s experience that Haas want, Antonio Giovinazzi would be a fantastic option. The Italian has spent the last year out of F1 and racing in Formula E but was driving very strongly in the final few races of his third and final year with Alfa Romeo in 2021.
Giovinazzi was back in the Haas for an FP1 appearance at Monza and he’ll repeat the trick later this month in Austin.
Rather than a trial to evaluate him for a F1 return, the two FP1 appearances are at the request of Haas partner Ferrari so he could get some experience of the new-for-2022 cars should he need to step in for Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz in his role as reserve.
It is understood Giovinazzi is not currently in the senior management’s thinking regarding a race seat next year, but he may have a chance at securing a slot at rivals Williams.
There are many reasons why a link up between Daniel Ricciardo and American squad Haas could work, one of which is the fact that the Australian is popular in the United States.
However, I understand Ricicardo is leaning towards a sabbatical next year to give him some time to regroup and assess what he wants to do in the medium- to long-term.
With eight race wins and 32 podiums under his belt, he remains of interest to many in the pit lane but a 2023 reserve role with an eye of a full-time racing return with a top team in 2024 is the most likely option at this stage.
With that in mind, Haas haven’t actively pursued the Australian.