Haas have already declared that the start-up nature of the team means an experienced driver is essential to their first F1 campaign, and their technical tie-up with Ferrari puts Scuderia testers Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne firmly in the frame.
“We are a new team, we need to be conscious that we need some known quantities,” team principal Guenther Steiner said recently. “Everything else is new. You know, the whole team is new people put together, the first car we make… it’s a lot of unknowns.
“So we need a known quantity in there which in the end can tell us, ‘Hey guys, I think the car is good, but this part of the team doesn’t work,’ or, ‘The team works good - I’ve got a good relationship with my race engineers - but the car isn’t good.’”
Romain Grosjean is the other big name being linked to Haas. The Lotus driver, a veteran of 77 Grand Prix starts and a 10-time podium finisher, has said he has made a decision on his 2016 plans, but has yet to reveal what they are.
Haas previously ruled out the option of an American driver, on the basis that there were none with solid F1 race experience. That was, however, before Marussia announced the signing of Californian Alexander Rossi to compete in five of 2015’s last seven rounds.