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Haas plans to make second F1 2023 driver decision next week

Haas Formula 1 boss Gunther Steiner hopes to make a decision on who will take the team’s second seat for 2023 next week ahead of the Abu Dhabi season finale.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

Haas is currently weighing up whether to continue with Mick Schumacher for a third season next year, or to replace him with ex-Renault, Force India, Sauber and Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Schumacher has struggled to match teammate Kevin Magnussen for form through this season, scoring half as many points and only twice finishing inside the top 10.

The Haas seat is the last remaining vacancy on the grid for next year, leaving all eyes on the American team as it waits to decide who will partner Magnussen.

Team principal Steiner has always stressed Haas was in no rush to make a decision, and said on Thursday in Brazil that although it was yet to make up its mind, he hoped a call would be made next week.

"Hopefully next week we can announce something, whatever we are doing," said Steiner, adding that it was "my objective, but I don't promise it."

Steiner explained that Haas wanted to get whoever would claim the seat in the car for the post-season test running in Abu Dhabi, taking place on the Tuesday after the season finale.

Haas mechanics on the grid

Haas mechanics on the grid

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

But he noted that are there were no other free seats, there was no reason for Haas to rush into a decision for fear of losing a driver to another team.

"We want to have the driver in that drives next year in the Abu Dhabi test, that's the only thing we want to do," said Steiner. "The rest is like we try to make the best decision we can, and time helps to make good decisions."

Hulkenberg has not raced full-time in F1 since 2019, but he made two stand-in appearances for Aston Martin at the start of the season when Sebastian Vettel was ruled out with Covid-19.

Steiner said the decision would hinge on "how best to develop the team for the future" and "to move where we want to move."

"I think we will make a step next year with our car development," he said. "We have done a lot of things, we have done a lot of analysis, what have we done this year, how can we improve the team.

"That is not down to one race as a lot of people say, even if it's a fantastic race here. We just think about mid-term, not just short-term. Short-term was a few years ago."

Schumacher recorded a best finish of sixth place at the Austrian Grand Prix in July, and in the eight races both he and Magnussen have finished since, they are tied 4-4 in their head-to-head battle.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Erik Junius

But Magnussen managed to pick up points in three of the opening four races of the season, when Haas was at its most competitive, and recently scored a ninth-place finish in Austin.

Steiner wanted to better understand the reasons for Schumacher's ups and downs through the year, saying the team needed the fluctuating form to "ebb out."

"That's always very energy consuming for everybody," he said. "Mondays are tough when you're down here, then you have to come up again, and you fall down again."

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