Headlines from the Nürburgring this morning reveal that Haas FP1 runner and F2 championship contender Callum Illot is not currently on the very long shortlist for a 2021 Haas F1 drive.
Gunther Steiner, Haas Team Principal told Autosport in Germany: “He’s not on the list because he’s a Ferrari driver. He’s their driver, so therefore he’s not on the list. I don’t know what they’re doing with him, what they’re planning with him and so on.”
Haas have control both of their seats in the team in comparison to Alfa Romeo who have a seat controlled by Ferrari, currently occupied by Antonio Giovinazzi, but expected to go to Mick Schumacher who is leading in F2.
Steiner continued: “I’m very honest, he’s not on the list now. Maybe he’s on the list tomorrow, I don’t know that. It will not be depending on the FP1 result.”
Steiner has said there as many as 10 drivers on the shortlist for a 2021 drive, with Illot expected to have been on that list it begs the question who are these 10?
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen
These two are the incumbents, the stalwarts, the Haas Familiar.
Both have had very long spells at the team and their position in the team is obviously going to be very well understood. They were both kept on despite the allure of Nico Hulkenberg after his Renault split in 2019 so there is faith from management in the pairing.
It is in the top 10 of teammate pairing durations and by the end of this season would be in the top five.
But it has also been one of the more fractious relationships between team and drivers for the last few seasons. Despite taking a punt with the team in 2016, Haas has not provided the fairytale relationship. Since 2018 the tide has generally been with Magnussen.
Both drivers swing between momentum and their highs are all too infrequent to warrant the inevitable downturn.
It would be logical to keep one of them for continuity and overall, the pace is usually with Magnussen…
One driver who was forced onto the market when the dominoes fell during the Spring is Perez.
When Racing Point unceremoniously jettisoned the popular and talented Mexican to make way for Ferrari’s discarded Sebastian Vettel the questions around his whole F1 future immediately started.
Haas was obviously mentioned as a team that would do brilliantly with Perez at the team. He brings a huge influx of money from his Carlos Slim backing which no doubt would take the pressure off of Gene Haas’s wallet.
Not only is his signing economically sound, he has not shown any sign of stopping being the reliable and fast performer on track. His Sochi performance proves that with him outperforming teammate Lance Stroll despite no updates. Perez was a lonely 4th after putting in a normal drive for him. Normal is extracting the best possible during the race and fourth was exactly that.
Haas could do a lot, lot worse than Sergio Perez.
It looked all but lost for Hulkenberg in F1 when Haas didn’t pick him up for 2020. His Instagram at the start of the year revealed that he was enjoying his new found release from keeping in shape.
But when Perez had to sit out of both Silverstone weekends due to testing positive for Covid-19 and Hulkenberg was called up to take his place as a super sub for his old team he raised his stock immediately.
Being back on the pace so quickly was incredibly impressive and qualifying third in the 70th Anniversary race, ahead of eventual race winner Verstappen, hit home that this man deserved an F1 seat.
It is no secret that Haas like Hulkenberg and did speak to him last year.
There is no doubt that he is in serious consideration for a 2021 return with the team.
This is the first of the more out there suggestions for Haas. Kvyat has been outclassed to such a degree by Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri that many are predicting it as a foregone conclusion that he will be out of F1 by the end of the year.
Although Kvyat has always found a way to cling on and that might come from branching out of the Red Bull programme.
Depending on what happens with Albon’s future at Red Bull and whether they branch out of their programme a return to AlphaTauri would be the outcome for him. Kvyat would be shuffled aside but a move to Haas could be positive for both parties.
An experienced driver who is capable of scoring points and can put in stellar race performances when necessary. Red Bull have kept him on for so long for a reason. If Haas want an experienced driver who can be reliable on the majority of days then Kvyat is a safe bet. He’s more consistent than the current Haas drivers as well.
Whilst the rumour mill is generating story after story about Raikkonen’s future being alongside Mick Schumacher at Alfa Romeo, the Finn said in the press conference in Germany that he has not signed anything with anyone yet.
He still has the drive and is a fantastic technical mind when it comes to car development. A driver who could really help them understand the car would be a good result for Haas.
The allure of a former world champion is also going to bring a lot of marketability as well as serious credibility for the team with a vote of confidence from Kimi.
Haas would probably love to snag Raikkonen but Alfa Romeo likely have first call.
Antonio Felix Da Costa
This is where the list gets a bit more abstract.
For winning the Formula E championship, the champion automatically gets a superlicence and there have been rumours that Da Costa will get a practice running in Portugal in the next few weeks.
Nothing has been confirmed yet but if we take it as read then F1 teams don’t usually give out practice runnings simply because it would be cool. Da Costa is in serious talks about an F1 debut.
Haas would be very lucky to get a piece of Da Costa.
He has been hanging around the paddock all year and when a chance appeared to step in for Perez it just so happened that it corresponded with the Formula E two week super finale.
Mercedes have rescued the career potential of Stoffel Vandoorne by allowing him to keep in everyones minds with a lot of people willing to see him get a second chance after a rough period at McLaren.
You’re only as good as your last race and Stoff won that…
Sergio Sette Camara
Similarly to Vandoorne, Sette Camara has been around the paddock this year with his AlphaTauri reserve role and is well due an F1 trial. He performed well in F2 although very clearly left a lot to be desired at some stages.
An impressive run in the very hard to master Formula E in Berlin has risen his stock too being the only Dragon to qualify in the top 10 all season.
Haas might want youth in the team and Sette Camara is arguably more tried and tested than Illot so could bring a lot to the team with his various levels of experience.
But realistically you would just go for Callum…
Now is this simply padding out the list because we are not able to include Callum Illot? Well, you can decide that dear reader.
Kubica brings a lot of sponsorship. Orlen is now the title sponsor for Alfa Romeo simply with him as a test driver.
He was outclassed in qualifying by George Russell famously in 2019 but his races were trademark aggressive Kubica. DTM is gradually slipping away from existence as a series so he is likely to be talking to whoever he can for his 2021 drive.
Kubica could do a good job at Haas. Similar to Kimi, he is incredibly technical and would be an asset to Haas financially and in aid of their development.