Haas's 2021 driver options + F1 silly season latest - The Race
Formula 1

Haas’s 2021 driver options + F1 silly season latest

Oct 22 2020

Formula 2 race winner Nikita Mazepin and a Ferrari-backed driver, likely Mick Schumacher, are tipped to take the now-vacant Haas seats for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

Haas announced on Thursday morning ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix that drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will not be retained beyond 2020.

The team has committed to a completely fresh line-up and team boss Guenther Steiner has strongly hinted in recent weeks it will invest in young drivers, using 2021 as a preparatory year before new car rules come into force in 2022.

F2 drivers Mazepin and Schumacher, who has previously been strongly linked to an Alfa Romeo drive, have now emerged as the favourites for that.

Mazepin’s father Dmitry spoke with Steiner at Sochi last month and Mazepin’s graduation to F1 has been expected for some time – subject to qualifying for a superlicence – given his wealthy patronage.

Nikita, the 2018 Formula 3 runner-up, has won two races in Formula 2 this season and is poised to finish in the top six of the championship and secure the licence.

F2 championship leader Schumacher is almost certain to make his F1 debut next year, though Alfa seemed the obvious choice for some time as Schumacher has tested with the team before and Ferrari has control over one of the seats there.

Mick Schumacher Alfa Romeo F1 test Bahrain 2019

However, Ferrari-backed Antonio Giovinazzi’s recent upturn in form and Kimi Raikkonen’s desire to stay on could mean Alfa retains its line-up for a third season, while Ferrari is keen to strengthen its ties with Haas into next season.

Reports in Italy suggest either Schumacher or Giovinazzi will race for Haas next season.

Ferrari has powered Haas’s cars since the American team entered F1 in 2016, and also supplied it with as many components as F1’s regulations have allowed, but never struck a deal for the team to run its juniors.

A change in stance could therefore take Schumacher to Haas, even though it may mean the team running two rookies – something Steiner has been open to as part of the team’s evaluation of the best options for the longer-term.

THE PEREZ/RUSSELL RUMOUR

Alfa’s increasing likelihood that two of Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Schumacher will drive for the team next year, plus Haas closing in on two young drivers, appears to have seriously reduced Sergio Perez’s options.

Perez is an unexpected out-of-contract option after discovering he will be replaced at Racing Point next season by Sebastian Vettel.

However, The Race understands Perez’s management has held initial talks with Williams – even though George Russell and Nicholas Latifi have contracts with the team for 2021.

Russell was announced as a Williams driver for 2021 ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix. The team exercised an option to keep the Mercedes protege for a third season. Russell and team-mate Latifi both said that the team’s sale to Dorilton Capital did not impact their contractual situations.

However, it has been speculated that Dorilton may be able to review those contractual agreements after all, and that either Russell or Latifi – but most likely Mercedes protege Russell – could be vulnerable to being replaced by Perez.

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

The Mexican brings financial backing and is only keen to stay in F1 to be part of a project that has potential to flourish under new technical rules in 2022 – which Williams, though starting from a low base, hopes to do.

With Ferrari drivers at the front of the queue at Alfa and Haas, but Williams’s previously-confirmed seats potentially available, the prospects for Perez and ousted Haas drivers Grosjean and Magnussen seem thin on the ground.

Perez could hold out hope for a Red Bull drive in the event Alex Albon is unable to secure his future, although Nico Hulkenberg is another out-of-contract option there.

The only other available seat is at AlphaTauri alongside Pierre Gasly, although that is almost certain to go to one of Daniil Kvyat or F2 graduate Yuki Tsunoda (subject to the Honda-backed youngster securing a superlicence this season).

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