ARE HÜLKENBERG AND PEREZ COMING FOR GROSJEAN’S SEAT?
Updated: Nov 6, 2020
With one or more Haas seat potentially up-for-grabs, Formula 1 drivers look for a saving grace to avoid retirement.
In Hungary a few weeks ago, Sky Sports journalist Ted Kravitz said that Romain Grosjean, on talking about his future in Formula 1, sounded ‘notably unenthusiastic’.
It’s understandable. The Frenchman has been in Formula 1 since 2009, and yet has never won a race, and has only 10 podiums. It does race questions about his future though, and with silly season still lively, there’s plenty of drivers lining up to take his place. I don’t want to talk about F2 talent today (mainly because I’d be here all day), but instead two drivers inside (for Silverstone, anyway) the F1 paddock that could replace the Haas driver.
The first possibility is Nico Hülkenberg. the German’s return to the grid (even if it was only for practice and qualifying last week) thrilled everyone, and his enthusiasm to replace Sergio Perez certainly shows he’s eager to get back in the sport. He also mentioned in interviews that he’s been talking to multiple teams about contracts. Note also that he never chose to leave last season; it was instead because Renault saw more in Esteban Ocon (and probably a lot of badgering by Toto Wolff, too, who was managing his then-reserve driver). His performance at Silverstone has been consistently close to or better than Lance Stroll’s, and he looks ready to race again.
There’s one big problem with Hülkenberg taking the Haas seat, though, and that’s who’s in the other one. Whilst it’s not exactly Senna/Prost level, Magnussen (Haas’ other driver) and Hülkenberg’s rivalry is certainly fiery, and I don’t even want to imagine how Guenther Steiner would react to them as a driver pairing. Just imagine the Drive To Survive episode where KMag goes for a Vettel/Webber Malaysia 2013 move down the side of Nico. Saucy.
The other obvious option, then, is Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver seems to be guaranteed to be team-less for 2021, considering Sebastian Vettel’s talks with Racing Point are all but confirmed (we know you weren’t going to a fuel station with Otmar, Seb). He’s certainly proved himself over the last few years to be a reliable and pacey addition to any team, and whilst both Racing Point and Renault have similar performance histories, Perez perhaps has more experience in being in a team that’s struggling; remember that he was the one who put Force India into administration.
Of course, there’s always the consideration that Hülkenberg AND Perez could both be driving Haas cars next year, but I doubt that will be the case if Kevin Magnussen gets a look-in.
For Guenther Steiner and co, they’ll have to weigh up the options: a ‘future world champion’, according to Cyril Abiteboul, who’ll inevitably conflict with Magnussen; or a reliable and quick current F1 driver who’ll have less conflict with the Dane?
As always with Formula 1, the deciding factor will be money. The ever-reliable internet (I’m joking) tells you that in 2019, both drivers earner similar sums, but they both earned considerably more than Grosjean: a team like Haas has a much lower budget, so they’ll have to discuss smaller numbers than what they’re used to, but both drivers will probably just be glad to have “Formula 1 driver” at the top of their contracts.
Clearly, then, if it’s between the two of them, the Haas team are going to have a long set of negotiations ahead of them.
Who do you think would be better for Haas? Let me know!