By now, you’ve probably heard the news that Mexican driver Esteban Gutiérrez and French driver Romain Grosjean joined the American Haas F1 Team in late 2015. Looking for the lowdown on those driver acquisitions and more? You’ve come to the right place!
The Haas F1 Team
This team still has that new car smell, due mostly to the fact that they haven’t put a car on the track just yet. When Haas officially debuts in the FIA Formula 1™ World Championship this year, it will be the first American-led team to race in F1™ in three decades. It was founded by industrialist Gene Haas, the founder of the largest North American CNC machine tool builder, Haas Automation. Their base in the United States happens to be in Kannapolis, North Carolina, but they currently have three separate locations in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Italy.
With outfits in three different countries, you can imagine that the logistics of the operation can be a bit harrowing at times, but team principal Guenther Steiner jokes that “The good thing is, we do not know any different.” The team has about 180 people total in all three countries, with a race team of approximately 60.
Though new, Haas has already added two big names in Formula 1 to its roster – Gutiérrez and Grosjean. Haas has aligned itself with Ferrari, which will produce the engines for its vehicles, and Italian manufacturer Dallara will be designing and building the chassis. Haas is expected to reveal their new car at the first test in Barcelona next month – it’s already passed the required FIA crash tests – and we can’t wait to finally see what kind of monster this team has brought to life!
French driver Romain Grosjean is the seasoned veteran driver in this group. Over a decade ago, Grosjean took part in the Renault Driver Development program and joined Formula Three. He consistently performed well in F3 and raced in the GP2 series as well, where he stunned the competition during his rookie season.
Grosjean moved into Formula 1 in 2008, becoming Renault’s test driver and piloting his first F1 car at the U.K. round of the 2008 World Series by Renault weekend. In 2009, he replaced Nelson Piquet, Jr., earning his first official F1 race seat. Grosjean unfortunately suffered a slew of issues during his first season of driving, ranging from a collision to mechanical failures. He took a sabbatical from Formula 1 to race sportscars and compete in AutoGP and GP2 races.
When he joined the Lotus F1 team in 2011 as a test driver, he was promoted to a race seat almost immediately. Grosjean quickly found success with Lotus, proving himself to be one of the most competent drivers on the track. As you can see below, Grosjean can’t wait to pound the pavement with his new team!
Mexican driver Esteban Gutiérrez first drove a Formula 1 car in 2009 after winning the Formula BMW Europe championship. He was named a BMW Sauber test and reserve driver in 2010, where he practiced alongside fellow Mexican national Sergio Pérez. Gutiérrez was promoted to Sauber’s race team in 2012. During his run with Sauber, he became the second-youngest driver to set a fastest lap (behind Nico Rosberg) and finished the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix in seventh place after starting fourteenth on the grid.
In 2015, Gutiérrez became the reserve driver at Scuderia Ferrari – a team that also happens to be Haas’ technical partner. This year, he’ll be racing alongside experienced driver Grosjean for a brand-new team that has established high expectations for its rookie season. His youthful energy and natural hunger to compete will serve him well throughout the season, but even though he’s just 24 years old, he’s already had two years of experience running a full schedule in Formula 1 and the insight he can provide after driving for Ferrari will likely prove invaluable.
See the Haas F1 Team in Action at the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™!
So far, it seems like Haas is doing all the right things and securing the right personnel to make a big splash in Formula 1 this season. Haas has made it clear that he doesn’t want a participation ribbon at the end of the team’s rookie year – he expects to earn points and hopefully finish in or near the top 10. No pressure on Gutiérrez and Grosjean at all, right?! The stakes will be high, and you can bet that these two highly competitive drivers will be bringing everything they have to the table in 2016. See the first American F1 team in three decades give their all on their home soil at Circuit of The Americas™ this October!