As expected Haas F1 has confirmed Romain Grosjean as its first signing for the 2016 season.
The Frenchman has walked away from a potential future as the key man in a revival of the Renault works team to align himself with Ferrari – and put himself in the best possible position to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Maranello in 2017. Grosjean is well known to Ferrari technical director James Allison from their Enstone days.
Gene Haas has long been adamant that he wanted a driver who had raced in 2015, and did not want to end up with two guys who drove in 2014 and had been on the sidelines since. Nico Hulkenberg turned down the chance, and will stay at Force India. Meanwhile Esteban Gutierrez still looks set to get the other seat as Haas says he will take one of the Ferrari reserves.
“We wanted an experienced driver capable of developing our car and our race team into one that can score points and better itself each race and each season. We found him in Romain Grosjean,” said Haas. “I’ve been involved in motorsports for a long time and learned early on the most crucial component is the driver. Romain has strong credentials and he will be an important asset to Haas F1 Team.”
“What Gene Haas and everyone at Haas F1 Team is building is impressive, and I’m very proud to be a part of it,” said Grosjean. “Formula One is incredibly competitive and the only way to succeed is by finding new ways of doing things. This is a new opportunity with a new team that is taking a very different approach to Formula One. I believe in their approach and they believe in me. While I am committed to giving my absolute best to my current team in these last five races, I am very excited for what the future holds at Haas F1 Team.”
Team principal Guenther Steiner added: “In addition to being an experienced Formula One driver, Romain is very technically minded. He gives strong, specific feedback as to how the car performs. As we develop our car in testing and throughout the season, his insight will be crucial.”