Although Formula One’s popularity in the United States continues to grow steadily each year, having a homegrown driver race for the sole American team could take the sport to new heights. But it’s seemingly unlikely that will happen in the near future.
Haas F1 Team boss Gunther Steiner said Friday the squad doesn’t think any American drivers currently are prepared for the promotion to F1, according to RACER.
Woodbury, Conn.-native Santino Ferrucci just finished his second season under contract with Haas as a development driver, and drove an F1 car for the first time during free practice for the 2016 British Grand Prix. But with only one season of Formula 2 under his belt, he could benefit from more time in the junior formulas.
“(It) would be an ambition,” Steiner told RACER, “but at the moment there is nobody ready for F1 in the United States in my opinion.”
Given how beneficial having a marketable American driver would be, not only for F1, but for Haas itself, the team would like to find one who is up to snuff.
“It’s on top of our list if there’s a good one,” Steiner said. “Obviously, we want one.”
Steiner’s concern is that such a pilot might be hesitant to risk signing with Haas, which runs in the middle of the pack, rather than pursue a seat with a competitive IndyCar team. And he has a point.
That very situation played itself out in 2016, when Alexander Rossi turned down the now-defunct Manor F1 Team’s offer to finish out the season. The Indianapolis 500 winner then closed the books on his F1 career when his stock was at its highest, opting to compete full-time for Andretti Autosport in 2017.