When the French and Americans come together on things, they tend to have good results. The Statue of Liberty. Pork roll on croissants. And now, Autosport reports that Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean will drive for the first American-based F1 team in ages: Haas.
Haas team principal Günther Steiner said a while back that they were looking for experienced shoes to help them get their team in order for its inaugural season. As the lone decent driver on the Lotus F1 team, Romain Grosjean definitely seems to fit the bill.
While Grosjean has several podium finishes to his name with Lotus, it’s not exactly the most stable place to be at the moment. Most recently, Motorsport.com reported that Lotus’ freight to Suzuka was delayed over a late payment and they were also locked out of their hospitality unit at the track until they paid another outstanding bill.
Haas may be a newcomer to Formula One, but they’re at least a group with considerable experience fielding a successful team in NASCAR. That for one makes me think they have at least as good of a chance at sticking around than Lotus at the moment. Renault’s purchase should help the struggling Lotus team, but the continual headlines about late or unpaid bills from the team are certainly cause for concern.
Perhaps more attractive than Haas’ experience elsewhere is their ties to Ferrari. Not only is Ferrari — the one team who’s giving Mercedes a good fight this year — supplying the Haas F1 team’s power units for next year, but the teams’ partnership between would make for an easy move over from Haas into a possible 2017 seat at Ferrari.
Kimi Räikkönen hasn’t even announced that he’s going anywhere after 2016, and everyone still wants his seat. Per Autosport, Grosjean driving for Haas means that Ferrari can easily compare his performance to Räikkönen’s, as Haas will share the same engine and other components with the Ferrari F1 team.
He’ll have some competition for such a move, not only from successful drivers at other outfits, but likely from current Ferrari reserve driver Esteban Gutiérrez, who is rumored to get the second seat at Haas.
Update: We originally went by the Racer syndication of the Autosport report, which oddly got rid of some of the hedging from the Autosport version. Although Autosport “understands” (their language which was omitted from the syndicated piece) that Grosjean has signed with Haas F1, at this point, there will be no official announcement made until Tuesday, when Haas has a press conference scheduled.
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