Haas team boss Gunther Steiner says it is proving tough to make a “clear decision” on whether Romain Grosjean or Nico Hulkenberg should be Kevin Magnussen’s team-mate for the 2020 Formula 1 season.
Steiner has made it clear that the team now faces a straight choice between incumbent Grosjean and current Renault driver Hulkenberg, who has lost his seat to Esteban Ocon – another man who had been on Haas’s list.
A decision had initially been promised during September, but Steiner admitted both he and team owner Gene Haas are struggling to reach a verdict.
“If it was a clear decision it would be easy to make, we would agree immediately,” he said.
“We’re not sure what is the best, he is not, and I’m not.
“He can always tell me what to do, he’s got that privilege because he finances the team.
“He values my opinion, so we discuss it just to make the best decision for the team, not for us.
“What we’ve got now is not bad, but can we make it better?
“How big is the risk that we want to make it better and it doesn’t go in the right direction?
“It’s a lot back and forward, but at some stage we need to come to a conclusion.”
Steiner stressed that Grosjean cannot win or lose the seat with his performances over the next few races, as the team already knows what he can do.
“That’s what I want to emphasise, we’re not going to judge Romain on race-by-race,” he said.
“For sure he needs to do a good result. For sure he knows what helps and what doesn’t help.
“It’s more where do we want to go with the team in the future? That’s the bigger decision.
“We know Romain pretty well. If he has one bad weekend, it doesn’t mean that the next one is not fantastic.
“We need now to make a decision for the team, where do we want to go next, what is better? Stay with what we know, or go with something new?
“His experience is very valued, but like I said it’s more like a decision on where we want to take the team next.”
Steiner said Haas is not in a hurry given that both drivers are likely to remain available.
“There is no desperation setting in,” he said. “The market wasn’t moving a lot this year, there are not big movements going on.
“It is very difficult to decide what to do, therefore it takes a little bit longer.
“It’s not like is ‘he good, is he not good?’ We know Romain pretty well, and I can see what Hulkenberg has done, so it’s more like what is fitting better in the bigger scheme of the team going forward than the race-by-race result.”