Haas deny anti-American F1 driver claims against team

Haas have denied they are against the idea of hiring an American driver but say they are not yet in a position to take a chance on a home-grown racer.

F1’s only American team have yet to appoint a US driver since joining the grid two years ago, with France’s Romain Grosjean and Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen forming their 2018 line-up.

The team were criticised by American racing figures last month after Haas team boss Guenther Steiner suggested no driver from the United States was yet ready for F1.

“I felt like there were times last year where our drivers were better than our cars. So, we need to step up, but we know where we need to improve thanks in large part to the experience of our drivers.

“We’re not saying no to having an American driver, but the reality is that of the American drivers who have a superlicence and could actually compete in F1, they should really be with a team that can serve as their benchmark rather than the other way around.

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“Now, we fully expect to eventually be in that position – ideally, sooner rather than later – but this is only our third year and we need to improve in a variety of areas, and Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are playing a big part in that improvement because of their experience.”

Alexander Rossi is the only American in the last decade to race in F1 but still only appeared five times for Manor at the end of the 2015 season.

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Haas, who has owned a NASCAR team since the early 2000s, says he has no doubts about his nation’s ability to produce highly-talented racing drivers.

“This debate about American drivers really isn’t a debate,” added Haas.

“I believe in American drivers – my NASCAR team is full of them, and we’ve won a lot of races and championships. Obviously, the discipline is different, but sure, there are competent American drivers who can compete in Formula 1.

“But we’re not ready for that yet, and with the limited amount of testing teams have, getting anyone up to speed who hasn’t already been a part of a development program would be hard. I think that’s the point Guenther was trying to make.”

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