Haas principal Guenther Steiner says the team retained Romain Grosjean for 2020 because he isn’t to blame for their 2019 woes.
Nico Hulkenberg had been tipped as a potential replacement for Grosjean, but the American outfit announced on Thursday that Grosjean would partner Kevin Magnussen in 2020 for the fourth-consecutive season.
Steiner, speaking ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix admits it was a “close call” as to who got the second seat, but wanted to retain Grosjean because he knew the team and they knew that he wasn’t to blame for the poor VF-19.
“It was a close call, you know, because they are both very good drivers and I hope Nico stays in F1,” Steiner is quoted by Motorsport.com. “I like him and he’s a good driver.
“But in the end we decided to stay with Romain. He is with the team for four years, we know his highs and his lows. We know on a good day he’s a very good driver. He knows the team very well.
“The biggest reason is our car this year is not performing as we want it to perform – which in the end has nothing to do with the drivers we’ve got at the moment. It’s the car, we’re very conscious about that.
“Now changing the driver, I don’t know if it would help us make the car better. It could, but it could also not. Because the new guy wouldn’t know where we start off.
“Romain was a big part of getting the understanding of why we are wrong with the car at the moment. He was a big help. And we didn’t want to have any more unknowns or risks.”
Carlos Sainz, who was Hulkenberg’s team-mate at Renault last season, believes the German’s ability means “he should be on the F1 grid until whenever he wants”.
Alfa Romeo could be a possible destination, while Williams also have a seat available after Robert Kubica announced he will leave at the end of 2019.
“I think everyone knows what Nico brings to the grid, I don’t think I need to explain myself much,” he explained.
“But, as we know, in Formula 1, it’s not always the talent or what you’re capable of doing on track that is predominant.
“There’s a lot of things that can be taken into account, other than your talent and how quick you are.
“If it was speed and talent, he should be on the F1 grid until whenever he wants.”
Hulkenberg at no point was approached with a formal offer from Haas it was confirmed by Steiner.