Romain Grosjean has made his decision on F1 team for 2016 - heading to Haas?
Romain Grosjean has said he has made a definite decision on his Formula 1 future and with uncertainty surrounding Renault's takeover of the Lotus t...
Romain Grosjean has said he has made a definite decision on his Formula 1 future and with uncertainty surrounding Renault's takeover of the Lotus team, it looks increasingly likely he will join Haas F1 for next year.
The French driver, who recently scored his best result for two years with third at the Belgian Grand Prix, has been the subject of many rumours about which team he will drive for next season.
If Renault were to complete the acquisition of the Lotus squad, Grosjean would be expected to stay with the Enstone-based team as he enjoys backing from French companies, especially Total oil and would be representing a French manufacturer.
Renault is close to an agreement with Lotus, but as this website explained last week negotiations with the F1 owner CVC regarding the amount of CCB Bonus (heritage prize money) it would receive if it re-joined the grid as a full manufacturer are not advancing.
CVC will have to find significant new CCB Bonus money for Mercedes next season, as it will have won two world championships since 2000, which is one of the key metrics by which the CCB Bonus is calculated, to find a similar amount for Renault would add up to $70-80m of additional outgoings (roughly 10% of the F1 prize fund).
Grosjean wants control of his destiny and could then join Haas F1, the new American squad that will make its debut in 2016. Gene Haas recently explained that he was only looking at experienced F1 drivers for his race seats next year and Grosjean is top of his list.
Speaking at the pre-event press conference in Singapore, Grosjean said: “The only thing I can [say] is that I have made my decision. Everything is clear in my head and I now what is going to happen to me in the future, but I won’t tell you any more [for now].”
Renault buying back Lotus would have been the ideal scenario for Grosjean, but a switch to Haas may not be such a backward step. The new team has a technical partnership with Ferrari, a team Grosjean has had negotiations about joining in the past.
Another driver whose F1 future is yet to be confirmed is Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver recently said he expected a new contract with Force India to be announced by the Singapore Grand Prix, but it is still yet to been revealed.
Speaking today, Perez reiterated that his new deal with Force India should be in place soon. He said: “We are just in the final bit, I hope [that] very soon we can finalise everything.
“The team is happy to keep me and I am happy to stay, so I see no reason for why it should not happen soon.”
Like Grosjean, Perez has also been linked to the Renault-Lotus buyout, as the Mexican’s significant financial backing could help the cash-strapped Enstone team. But Force India is still the favourite to retain Perez, who indicated that both parties expect the relationship to continue.
He said: “Progress has been made [but] we are not yet in a position to announce anything [yet].”
Manor’s Roberto Merhi, who will be replaced by American driver Alexander Rossi for five of the remaining seven races in 2015 including Singapore, explained that he hopes to be back on the F1 grid in 2016, but said that finding financial backing could prove problematic.
He said: “For next season we are looking for an F1 seat and we will try to find the best option possible. These days it’s really important to bring a budget and at the moment it is hard to find [a] budget.”
Merhi also revealed that he travelled to Singapore expecting to drive this weekend before the team told him when he arrived that he would be replaced.
He said: “I flew here on the Monday and when I arrived the team gave me the news that I would not be driving and Rossi would be in my place.”
The main story surrounding the remaining moves in the 2016 driver market is the future of Renault and Lotus in F1. That uncertainty also affects a number of drivers, including Grosjean, Perez and Grosjean’s current teammate Pastor Maldonado.
The French manufacturer has ruled out remaining in F1 as an engine supplier, meaning it will either buy Lotus after all or pull out of the sport altogether.Where do you think Romain Grosjean should drive in 2016? Should he go to Haas? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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