Haas drops Grosjean and Magnussen from 2021 F1 line-up - The Race
Formula 1

Haas drops Grosjean and Magnussen from 2021 F1 line-up

Oct 22 2020
By Scott Mitchell-Malm

Haas will have an all-new driver line-up in Formula 1 next season after deciding to replace both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen for 2021.

Grosjean announced his exit in a social media post on Thursday morning ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix, while Magnussen also announced his exit via an Instagram post shortly afterward.

It is not known who Haas will run next year in their place, but team boss Guenther Steiner has previously indicated a switch to young drivers is likely.

Formula 2 race winner Nikita Mazepin has been heavily linked with the team while a move for a Ferrari protege is also likely, potentially giving Haas an all-rookie pairing.

Grosjean has raced for Haas since it joined the F1 grid in 2016. Though his performances have been erratic at times, he was instrumental in the team’s initial success and has been regularly praised by Haas for taking a chance at the peak of his career.

He was also a driving force behind the team’s decision to abandon its failed in-season upgrade package last year and revert to the season launch spec.

“The last chapter is closed and the book is finished,” said Grosjean. “I’ve been with Haas F1 Team since day one.

“Five years during which we went through highs and lows, scored 110 points in 92 races, but the journey was worth it. I’ve learned a lot, improved to be a better driver as well as a better man.

“I hope I’ve also helped people in the team to improve themself. This is probably my biggest pride, more than any of the crazy first races in 2016 or the P4 at the Austrian GP 2018.”

Magnussen joined Grosjean at Haas for the 2017 season and enjoyed the best year of his F1 career one year later with a fine 2018 campaign.

But both drivers suffered declines in 2019 and while the car’s disappointing performance was a key factor, they were also guilty of hurting the team’s prospects, with a high-profile crash on the opening lap at Silverstone and other incidents in Spain and Germany.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Eifel Grand Prix Preparation Day Nurbugring, Germany

“Being part of a brand new team has been a challenge that I have thoroughly enjoyed and it has brought me a huge amount of experience that has helped me grow and develop as a racing driver,” said Magnussen.

“I would like to thank Gene [Haas, team owner], Guenther and all of the race team for their loyalty and trust in me over the past four years.

“I am still working on my plans for the future, which I will announce in due course.

“There are still six races to do this season and I am determined to give my all to finish off on a high.”

At 34, Grosjean’s F1 career is likely over. The French driver had a damaging initial graduation to F1 midway through the 2009 season but rehabilitated in sportscars, AutoGP and a title-winning return to GP2 in the next two years before rejoining the F1 grid in 2012.

He scored three podium finishes that season and six more in 2013, establishing himself as an exciting prospect, but Lotus’s potential was never fully realised as the team’s financial problems escalated.

Grosjean opted to leave what would morph into the revived Renault works team so he could join Haas in 2016, and his exit after this season will bring the relationship to an end after five seasons – with Formula E or the World Endurance Championship his likeliest next move.

Haas gave Magnussen a career reprieve in 2017 after stints at McLaren and Renault did not go as planned.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Test One Day 1 Barcelona, Spain

Magnussen scored a podium on his F1 debut in 2014 with McLaren but lost his drive after one season as the team made room for the returning Fernando Alonso alongside Jenson Button.

After one season on the sidelines as McLaren’s reserve driver, Magnussen returned to the grid with Renault for its comeback season but the car – a barely developed version of the Lotus that Grosjean had raced the previous year – was uncompetitive.

Magnussen and Renault parted companies after one season, leading Magnussen to a much more stable stint with Haas that has now spanned for years.

Though he is unlikely to rule out continuing in F1 if possible, in reality Magnussen appears to have no realistic options to stay.

He is only 28, so could take a sabbatical and angle for a drive with the new technical rules in 2022, but a move to IndyCar or the WEC may be more pragmatic options.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner thanked both drivers “for their hard work and commitment over the past few seasons”.

He added: “Romain was a fundamental part of our establishment as we sought to get a driver onboard with both speed and experience. His results in early 2016 were a just reward, not only for his own talent, but also for the sheer amount of effort the team had put in to be on the grid that season.

“When Kevin joined a season later, we saw an immediate return with both cars scoring points, and of course, our first double points finish in Monaco that year. We have a lot of good memories together – in particular our 2018 season when we finished fifth in the standings in only our third season. Romain and Kevin played a significant part in that success.

“Of course, there is still plenty of racing left in the 2020 season. It’s been a challenging year, no doubt about that, but both drivers have given their all behind the wheel of the VF-20. We value their inputs and experience to keep pushing the team forward through to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.”

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