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HomeMotorsportsSearch for Hülkenberg's successor at Haas: Does the trail lead to Alpine?

Search for Hülkenberg’s successor at Haas: Does the trail lead to Alpine?

Haas may have two cockpits up for grabs for 2025: Team principal Ayao Komatsu confirms that Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly are an issue

With Nico Hülkenberg, the Haas team will lose its lead driver at the end of the season: The German will move to Sauber a year before Audi joins the team, leaving a gap at his current racing team that will be difficult to fill

Although Ferrari junior Ollie Bearman is considered a hot candidate for a Haas cockpit in 2025 after his strong Formula 1 debut as a replacement for the Scuderia’s Carlos Sainz in Jeddah, and is already being prepared for this with several training sessions this season, his promotion is not yet certain.

According to many experts in the paddock, Kevin Magnussen’s seat is also in doubt: Not so much because of the Dane’s upcoming race ban, but quite simply due to the obvious performance deficit compared to Hülkenberg. The US team could therefore reassign both cockpits for next year

Haas team boss: Driver profile is crucial

But who would even come into question for Haas? Rumors recently surfaced about Esteban Ocon, who is visibly unhappy at Alpine. Curious: Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu not only confirms this speculation, he also opens the door for his Alpine team colleague Pierre Gasly.

“Yes, but we are also talking to other French drivers,” explained the Japanese driver when asked about Ocon: “It makes no sense for me to close any doors at this point. Anyone who comes to see us, who is of interest to us, I won’t lock them out. So yes, Esteban is one of them, but one of many,” reveals Komatsu.

What they are looking for, however, is already relatively clearly defined, explains the team boss: “Our goal is clear. We need someone who gives us a reference, who provides us with good feedback and wants to develop the car together, but actually also the team,” explains the Japanese driver. For him, the driver question is therefore primarily about “whether the driver fits this profile.”

Komatsu draws comparison with Schumacher and Mazepin

The fact that Haas, still under predecessor Günther Steiner, has not had such good experiences with inexperienced rookies in recent years does not speak against signing at least one youngster, such as Bearman, assures Komatsu.

“No, I don’t think you should lump all the drivers in the rookie category together,” says the team boss. “You have someone like Kimi Antonelli, like Ollie Bearman, you have someone like Mick Schumacher and someone like Nikita Mazepin. You can’t lump them all into the same category, can you? You have to look at the individual cases, which is why I’m not at all worried about Ollie being a rookie.”

Speaking of rookies: Komatsu himself is a rookie in the position of team principal, having only been in charge at Haas since the beginning of the year. “Every day” he is learning, says the Japanese driver, “you have to, you have no choice. But I really enjoy it and of course I try to do the best job I can. “

How good it is, especially in terms of driver negotiations, “we will see at the end when we have signed a driver, whether I have done a good job or not,” says the team boss. The fact that Haas is still hesitating to sign a driver “is not happening without a reason, just as we are not accelerating anything without a reason”.

Komatsu clarifies: “We have our timetable to evaluate certain things. But of course you have to play it right and that’s what I’m trying to do.” What gives the team boss confidence is the current form of the team, which is in seventh place in the world championship: “Of course, sporting results play a role for everyone. That’s why I’m quite grateful that some, let’s say seasoned Formula 1 drivers, are interested in our team. That’s good.”

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