Haas has tentatively expressed interest in signing outgoing McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Ricciardo had two disappointing seasons with McLaren and will leave the team after reaching a mutual agreement to end his contract a year early.
The eight-time Grand Prix winner is now the most prominent free agent for next season and has made it clear he wants to stay in F1.
He is an obvious candidate for the vacant Alpine seat which Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri (who is likely to replace Ricciardo at McLaren) rejected, but Haas and Williams also have vacancies.
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner suggested Ricciardo wasn’t necessarily what Haas needed given his decline at McLaren, but confirmed he was of interest.
“Everyone now thinks we have to take Danny and maybe we don’t want Danny,” Steiner said.
“Why do you think he left McLaren?
“We have to be careful here, it’s not just about what you’ve done, but what you can do.”
He added: “Everyone is interesting, we look at everyone and then we see.”
Ricciardo would have been an unthinkable signing for Haas, who finished last in the Championship in 2021 without scoring a point, until this season.
But the team’s form has improved dramatically while Ricciardo’s own stock has fallen and there are few options for him to stay in F1.
“It’s a lot easier if you have good performance,” Steiner said of attracting drivers.
“And that’s not where we want to be, we want to go further and we’re working hard.
“It’s not luck, it’s hard work that we’re back in midfield now.
“We have to take it step by step, but obviously there’s a lot more interest in wanting to be here.”
Steiner has not spoken to Ricciardo since his departure from McLaren was confirmed, but said he messaged him ‘a few weeks ago’ indicating he had already tried to gauge interest from the Australian.
He said he hadn’t spoken to Ricciardo or anyone “about a contract, more like ‘where are you?'” because he needed to know “how are the people”.
“I texted Daniel, but not since he left McLaren,” Steiner said. ” A little before. A few weeks back.
“It’s my job, to stay involved with what’s happening in the industry, like all the other team managers do.
“We always meet people [if] there might be something to do in the future.
He added: “I don’t know what he [Ricciardo] plans to do and we are in no rush to speak with anyone at this time.
“He has to think for himself what he wants to do and if he’s interested he’ll text me.”
Haas may still retain Mick Schumacher alongside Kevin Magnussen, but Schumacher’s future is far from guaranteed after an inconsistent second F1 season that included two massive crashes.
Steiner said it was wrong to assume Schumacher was heading for the exit door, but stressed it was “the performance we need to see” from a driver who has only scored points twice this season.
The results from the British and Austrian GPs were cited by Steiner as “very good” and he dismissed any notion of off-track tension with him.
But clearly Haas needs Schumacher to be more consistent to be convinced by the long-term F1 credentials of the son of seven-time world champion Michael.
“You have to prove yourself here every day,” Steiner said. “Every day is a new day. It’s a performance-based business, you have to constantly prove yourself.
“You can’t have one or two races and say, ‘Now I’m a confirmed F1 driver’, you need points throughout the year.
“He did very well in the last quarter before the summer break, so we still have a few more races and have time to wait and we are not in a rush to make a decision.
Steiner has flatly ruled out re-signing a rookie after spending the 2021 season with Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
He intends to discuss the full driver options with team owner Gene Haas when the American attends the next two races in the Netherlands and Italy, as Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi – who will participate in two Friday practice sessions for Haas before the end of the season – is also on the list.
“I have to talk to people, see who’s in the market and decide what we do,” Steiner said.
“At the moment the plan is for Gene to come to Zandvoort and Monza and hopefully I will find a good time with him to talk about it and we will make the decisions.
“I talk to a lot of people. If I told you all who I talk to on a daily basis, you would get bored pretty quickly.
“Everything is still open. We have not made any decision on what we will do next year with the drivers.
“Obviously we talk, we inform each other, it’s my duty to the team or the team owner and I think it’s as simple as that.”
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