Guenther Steiner has seen numerous driver changes at Haas in recent years, and he predicts another volatile F1 driver market in 2024.
The last twelve months have seen relatively minimal changes in the F1 grid – aside from a series of swaps AlphaTauri. However, next season will potentially see numerous changes across the field.
In recent months, evidence has increasingly pointed to Haas as a key player in the upcoming “silly season.” When Nico Hulkenberg’s F1 return was announced in 2022, it was the German driver whose credentials were questioned.
The decision to replace Mick Schumacher for someone who’d spent three years without a full-time seat was widely criticised.
However, Guenther Steiner’s judgement has largely been validated in this respect, with Hulkenberg returning at a very high level.
In a campaign without many positives for Haas, his Q3 appearances were rare highlights. Unfortunately for the American team, their lack of performance comes at a price.
Having introduced only one notable upgrade, the F1 veteran’s confidence in the team seems to have weakened. In a series of interviews, the capacity of Steiner’s personnel is increasingly under the microscope.
Combined with Sauber’s interest in his services, it seems fair to predict ‘The Hulk’ could be active in free agency.
Simultaneously, the Formula 2 grid is being filled with highly talented youngsters
Among them is Oliver Bearman, who completed FP1 for Haas in Mexico and Abu Dhabi. In both these sessions, the 18-year-old was within a few tenths of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.
If the British driver can produce a strong campaign in F2, it seems plausible Ferrari will push for his entry into F1. The most logical destination would be at Haas F1 Team.
Steiner open to a changeable market
Although Guenther Steiner doesn’t directly state Bearman is under consideration, his recent comments indicate changes are possible:
“We all know what is happening in the market,” he told SpeedCafe.
“At some stage, we will have new drivers coming into Formula 1 – because some are getting on in their careers.
“So you’re always thinking and seeing what is happening. You keep an eye [on it], but it’s too early to make decisions.”
Of course, it would be premature to extrapolate these statements into anything concrete. Still, it is clear that nothing can be discounted for 2024.
Several variables inevitably shape Formula 1, so contract negotiations will be ever-changing over the next twelve months.