Pietro Fittipaldi, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

Haas has “several candidates” for Mazepin’s seat but Fittipaldi will test this week

2022 F1 season

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Haas F1 team owner Gene Haas says that there are “several candidates” to fill the vacancy which has arisen in the team’s driver line-up for the 2022 Formula 1 season.

The team is yet to confirm who will replace Nikita Mazepin, whose departure from the team was confirmed over the weekend as a result of complications due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mazepin was due to continue racing alongside Mick Schumacher this year and appeared for the team at the opening pre-season test in Spain which coincided with the outbreak of war.

Team principal Guenther Steiner previously indicated the team’s test and reserve driver, Pietro Fittipaldi, had “first call” on the seat should Mazepin not race with the team this season. However, team owner Gene Haas says they are considering other drivers as a long-term replacement for Mazepin.

“We’re in the process of looking at several candidates, we’ll see who is available and what we have to deal with, but we’ll have somebody by Wednesday,” Haas told the Associated Press.

He indicated Fittipaldi, who made the only two F1 starts of his career for the team as a substitute at the end of 2020, will test for the team this week. “Pietro will definitely be in it, that’s what he’s for, he’s the test driver,” said Haas.

With Haas fielding two rookie drivers last season, Gene Haas says the vacant race seat offers an opportunity for them to bring in a driver with more experience for this season.

“I think we’d obviously like to get someone with a bit more actual experience,” he said. “We just have to see what’s available.”

Alternatives to Fittipaldi could include Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who lost his full-time drive at the manufacturer’s other customer team, Alfa Romeo, at the end of last season. Haas is thought unlikely to recall former drivers Romain Grosjean or Kevin Magnussen, who left the team at the end of 2020 and now race in America.

Despite losing the team’s title sponsor as a result of heavy sanctions placed on Russian businesses by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union, Haas insists that the team are in good shape financially.

“We’re good. We’re fine,” Haas said. “We’d like more money, of course, but we’re fine. This just gives us a bigger negative number.”

The second three-day pre-season test begins on Thursday at the Bahrain International Circuit. The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix will take place the following weekend.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 49 comments on “Haas has “several candidates” for Mazepin’s seat but Fittipaldi will test this week”

    1. If Ferrari really wants Giovinazzi, they just need to give Haas a discount on the engines and it’s a done deal.
      I think it all depends on Ferrari wanting it or not.

      Personally, I would like to have Gio back, we could also have a benchmark to understand how quick Mick really is.

      1. Haas takes money wherever it is. Only one word come to their mouth: 15 million

        1. Ooooh. Haas + Ragunathan 2022.

    2. I think Piastri should get it.

      But Haas talking about experience means that Giovinazzi might get the nod.

      1. @Sumedh Unfortunately for him, zero chance from the get-go & if scarce F1 racing experience goes against Pietro, neither do drivers without even a single race experience stand a chance.
        Gio is definitely far more likely than Piastri (or Daruvala for that matter as he’s also got mentioned).

        1. Pietro is also an Alpine member so it’s not that easy to place a non Ferrari driver in Haas. If Gio or is it Hulkenberg?

          1. @macleod He’d have to leave Alpine altogether like Zhou for AR, as I doubt Haas would take (non-Ferrari-associated) drivers merely on loan. The same goes for Daruvala, who’d have to leave the RB driver program.
            Hulkenberg is unlikely, given how long he’s been away from regular F1 racing (& proper racing generally, for that matter), which is unideal for someone who hasn’t achieved success in the series.
            I reckon Gio or a surprise someone with sponsor backing who no one’s thought about mentioned.

            1. @jerejj your correct ofcourse. I think Gio is the most likely driver for the season.

    3. Doesn’t sound like the dude getting the seat. Not that I truly believe he should get it anyways. Pretty sure someone else will end up driving the Haas after the test.

    4. Whoever does pre-season testing should also become a regular driver as otherwise, the replacement would begin the season without literally any pre-FP1 driving, even worse than doing ‘only’ three testing days beforehand.
      Former drivers Grosjean & Magnussen are definitely off, especially as both have effectively said no to an F1 return merely for making up numbers, which is understandable.
      Gio is a viable option, although he doesn’t bring sponsor backing, which would be good despite Gene saying they’re fine without.

    5. Didn’t they say it’d be Fittipaldi just a few days ago? Something about loyalty or whatever. I somehow dislike this team, and I can’t really explain why, but they always make the least popular choices. There’s no sense of team identity, they don’t care about the quality of their drivers, the consistency, they fired both drivers when the problem was in the car… I defended Mazepin only because he was attacked for being a Russian, but he should’ve never got that seat in the first place. Team owner shows no passion, Steiner always seem as if he’s lacking control, not just over his drivers and the team, but also himself. I see no passion, I see no talent, and I don’t see any plan at all. Well, it’s Gene’s money, not mine.

      1. Can’t argue with any of that, fired Magnussen who got a podium on his debut and has always been solid but not firing Grosjean sooner who’s been riddled with mistakes for years, Haas are ridiculous, I want them to do better for the sake of the sport though.

      2. What would you expect from Gene Haas and his approach to racing? He enters the sport with only with a half baked team principal and a pit crew. Then decides to buy all the parts (and probably designs) he could off Ferrari, and outsources the rest of his engineering and design capabilities to Dallara. Haas isn’t even an F1 team. They’re a glorified motorsport outsourcing unit.

        At least they were interesting to watch when Grosjean and Magnussen were racing for them. Now they field the most rubbish drivers on the grid and focus on the funds they bring in. They’d put a Russian flag on their (apparently United States) racing team.

        They’re a joke. Their own saving grace is Steiner’s entertainment value on Drive to survive.

      3. To be fair no money no spot Fittipaldi has enough for as test/reserve driver but not for racing a whole season.

      4. What they said, is what Gene and Gunther both said in this article: Fittipaldi gets first opportunity.

        Doesn’t mean someone with more experience won’t get it, or someone with more money– but Fittipaldi, as test driver, gets first crack at the seat, and will be testing at Bahrain next week.

    6. Giovanazzi would be the best option. I can’t see Ferrari wanting another manufacturer put another academy driver in a Ferrari powered team. They can sway Haas to get Gio in but they’re already taking Schumacher on and it’s no secret he’s using Haas a training ground. They won’t want to take on an inexperienced driver as they sacrificed 2021 to focus on 2022. They can’t have another rookie taking weeks to find their feet.

    7. “several candidates” = “we have to buy some time to see who has the most money”

      “Pietro Fittipaldi, had “first call” – “We can’t say straigth away that he will drive because even though he may have money he isn’t the next superstar and we could find someone who brings more backing.”

      “I think we’d obviously like to get someone with a bit more actual experience,” he said. “We just have to see what’s available.” = ” We still need some time to see our options who can help us financially”

      ““We’d like more money, of course, but we’re fine.” – “We’d like more money, of course, but we’re fine by now.

      1. @qeki Pretty accurate.

    8. Gene,

      I’m ready and waiting for your call.

      I just need to lose a little weight (well, maybe more than a little), to start doing some intensive cardio exercise and weight training…. Oh, and I haven’t got a super license so if you can sort that out too then I’m good to go!

      Also, I’m just fine with driving a car that bears more than a passing resemblance to the flag of a country with an oppressive regime. You can even feature the name of a sponsor that provides a really controversial product or that’s just there so that the company’s owner can get a huge ego boost. I’m really not fussy.

      My only requirement is that you make the car one of the slowest on the grid and that you keep on adding absolutely nothing of value to the sport of F1.

      I’ll look forward to your call.

      Sonny

    9. Drivers with experience, with a valid superlicense:
      Giovinazzi, Räikkönen, Hulkenberg, Wehrlein, Vandoorne, Hartley, Kubica, Grosjean, Magnussen, Ericsson. Take a pick

      1. @uneedafinn2win Everyone bar Gio is off, most for being away from F1 racing too long for someone who hasn’t achieved success in the series. Kimi definitely won’t re-return, Grosjean & Magnussen have said no to an F1 return merely for making up numbers, & Kubica & Orlen are tied to AR. Furthermore, his F1 racing time is over anyway.
        Wehrlein, Vandoorne, Hartley, & Ericsson don’t have a valid super license anymore, BTW.
        Wehrlein’s expired at 2020-end & 2021-end for the other three.

        1. @jerejj
          The mentioned drivers can get their licences back though.
          According to appendix L of the International Sporting Code, Art. 13.1.6., a driver who previously (more than three years ago) was granted a FIA superlicence, can acquire a licence, if he/she has covered at least 300 km in a representative F1 car at racing speeds over max. two days and not more than 180 days before the application. This can be done as part of an official F1 session (i.e. an official F1 testing session) or as part of a test certified by a national racing authority.

          If I remember correctly, Mercedes did such a test for one of their simulator drivers in 2020. I think it was Esteban Gutierrez, after Checo Perez was the first F1 driver to test positive for Covid.
          The only question is, whether the FIA considers a 2021 or 2020 car to be “representative” enough. After all these cars are significantly different from previous years.

          1. @srga91 True & I’m aware of this. My point was merely about the present situation.

            1. @srga91 BTW, Merc never did such running for Gutierrez in the end.

            2. I see.
              Thanks for the update on Mercedes and Gutierrez. I thought it was strange to not find any more information about the test, so it must have never happened in the end.

    10. Obviously the smartest thing would be to get the permanent driver on the seat now so they’re not a disadvantage going into the season, so if it ends up being Gio then maybe give Fittipaldi the first 2 or 3 race weekends and let Gio do 1 practice session in each of those so he’s up to speed with the all new car when he takes over permanently.

    11. Gio, Piastri, Vandoorne, Herta, Aitken, Fittipaldi… I think they are getting another “mazepin” who will bring the most amount of money available. How they can be fine with money if their main sponsor just left?

      1. Because their “Main Sponsor” was and now is again Haas Automation.

        1. And just to put this in perspective:

          Founded in 1983 by Gene Haas, HAAS Automation is now the largest machine tool builder in the western world, producing a complete line of CNC vertical and horizontal machining centers, among other products, with distribution in more than 100 countries and annual sales of $1.8 billion.

          … and any money they dump into Haas F1 team can be written off as “advertising”.

      2. @qeki Piastri has had zero chance from the get-go. Vandoorne has been away from F1 racing too long.
        Herta is ineligible for a super license, & besides, if scarce F1 racing experience puts P. Fittipaldi at a disadvantage, neither do drivers without any (or one a single race in Aitken’s case) stand a chance, including Piastri, Daruvala, etc.

    12. They need an experienced driver, and someone who can be a known benchmark for Schumacher. I think Giovinazzi is their only realistic option. But… since nothing other than cash influx matters to Haas, I’m guessing we’ll see another year of them being stuck in dead last with Fittipaldi.

    13. Can Haas get Giovinazzi out of his Formula E commitments with Penske? Assuming they can, then he’s probably the best option available. Though I’d like them to go with Fittipaldi, who I thought acquitted himself fairly well at the end of 2020 in a difficult set of circumstances.

    14. I hope Haas at least give Pietro Fittipaldi a chance to prove himself, before hiring someone else in a hurry. He didn’t do too bad in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi two years ago for the team and was reasonably close to Magnussen.
      I don’t expect him to be on the same pace as Mick Schumacher, but I don’t think he will be massively off either. Time will tell if he’s worth the seat or not.

      If not, then Giovinazzi would be a safe bet. He’s experienced, knows a lot about the Ferrari PU and would’ve likely been involved in development of Sauber’s 2022 car (meaning he has at least theoretical knowledge in that area). Plus he would be a good benchmark for Mick Schumacher.

      The only other candidate I see is Oscar Piastri. He’s definitely fast, one of the biggest talents right now. I don’t see him being a rookie as a big problem. However, his link to Renault/Alpine might be an obstacle. I can’t imagine Ferrari wanting a rival’s junior driver in a team so closely related to their own works team.

      1. @srga91 Piastri would have to leave Alpine altogether to stand even a theoretical chance as I doubt Haas would take (non-Ferrari-associated) drivers merely on loan.
        The same goes for Daruvala (also mentioned in these speculations), who’d have to leave the RB driver program.
        Additionally, entirely independent teams having drivers on loan deals is pretty much a past thing anyway.
        I don’t really see other realistic options this close to the season-opener than P. Fittipaldi & Gio.

    15. It’s kind of a shame that Hulkenberg took his hat out of the ring.

      1. … I tought Hulk is still dev/test driver at Aston Martin?

      2. He was just realistic.
        @ferrox-glideh @zomtec

    16. Sorry to see Mazepin go as he was posting better results that Mick in the Barcelona tests. I am sorry also that he was willing to sign the treason act required by the FIA. He is a Russian I cannot respect after that.

      1. As a result of the doping scandal, it’s not like he’s been able to race under the Russian flag or anthem for the past couple years anyway.

    17. If Haas really wanted to generate some excitement and buzz, give Jamie Chadwick a seat. She did beat Mick Shumacher at the Race of Champions earlier in the year after all.

      1. Jamie Chadwick does not currently have, nor can she acquire an FIA super license.

      2. I wouldn’t expect a driver from F3 to get an F1 drive unless they absolutely dominated the competition. Doing this would probably be embarrassing for both Haas and Chadwick

        1. Dominate F3 and pay a lot of money, that’s what Stroll did

    18. That’s… a bit risky. W series is the equivalent of F3– with less horsepower. Putting her straight into F1 would be a major hurdle, and could destroy her career if she’s not ready. She ought to be in F2, though, and the fact that after winning two championships in a row, she can’t get into F2, is distressing.

      Also, the W series only hands out 15 Super License points for a championship– but didn’t for the first year. So between W series and F3 Asia, she’s got 25 points of the 40 she needs.

      1. could destroy her career if she’s not ready.

        There is no such thing in her future as a race driver.

    19. thank god he is gone, truly a blessing in disguise. He added nothing but frustration and causing a rise in crash damage for the field

    20. Haas would be hard pressed to find a better experienced driver to take over the seat than Giovinazzi. They need mire experience in the seat and Antonio wants to stay in F1. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

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