Incoming Formula 1 entrant Gene Haas has admitted that he might not be able to attract his mooted number one target Nico Hulkenberg to his new team next year.
US machine-tooling magnate Haas, who will enter F1 next year with a close technical partnership with Ferrari, is understood to have Force India racer Hulkenberg at the top of his wishlist for 2016 – but he appreciates that the German could yet get his long sought-after break with one of the sport’s established big players.
Haas has previously admitted that he's looking for a current F1 driver to lead his team.
“I honestly don’t know if he’s available or not,” Haas told Motorsport.com. “He’s doing pretty well there with Force India, obviously he didn’t have a great raceday [in Hungary], but there seems to be a lot of interest in him.
“Whether we’d even have a shot at him or not, I don’t really honestly know. What does he want, what are his expectations? Drivers have a lot of hesitancy when it comes to working for a new team.”
“We’re still looking for an existing, current F1 driver. But that’s going to depend on who’s in what seats next year, but there should be more evidence in August of who’s going where.”
Le Mans 24 Hours winner Hulkenberg remains linked with a move to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next season, should its mooted deal to sign Valtteri Bottas from Williams not materialize as many expect it will.
Lengthy gearing-up process in full swing
Haas also spoke about the huge effort that is currently going into setting up his new squad at its British base in Banbury, and how the time-consuming nature of F1 has taken him by surprise.
“We’re doing a lot of planning, working on our factory, ordering equipment – all of that stuff right now,” he added. “That takes a lot more time than you would expect. Typically, it takes three to six months just to get something that you’ve ordered, but that’s the way it is.
“It’s not like we have a lot of time but, boy, if you had a shorter period of time, I don’t know how you’d do it.”