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F1 Singapore GP: Haas open to being Ferrari driver development test bed

Guenther Steiner suggests Haas could provide the 'step' towards a Ferrari seat for promising youngsters in its driver stable.
Guenther Steiner says his Haas team would be prepared to become an effective 'breeding ground' for Ferrari's development drivers going forward in an effort to strengthen its relationship with the factory team.

New to the grid in 2016, Haas has enjoyed a successful inaugural season of F1 having established itself amidst the competitive mid-field order, with a best finish of fifth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

This eye-catching inaugural campaign has been partly attributed to the close technical working relationship forged with Ferrari since Haas announced its F1 intentions back in 2014, one that has seen collaboration on elements of the chassis, a supply of engines and the agreement to take on its reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez.

READ: How Vettel kept his cool while Hamilton burnt out in 2015

Going forward however, Steiner hints there is scope to extend this relationship to include turning one of its seats over to drivers in Ferrari's development stable as a means of preparing them for a move to the Scuderia, much like Red Bull does with Toro Rosso.

Coming as Ferrari Academy Driver and GP3 championship leader Charles Leclerc steadily emerges as a possible candidate for a Haas drive in 2017, though Steiner says those talks aren't taking place right now, he hints an agreement of that nature could be mutually beneficial.

“I think Ferrari helped us out this year to find a driver, because last year we were looking for good drivers and they had one with Esteban so we took him. In the future, we haven't spoken about that a lot so if Ferrari has got a good development driver in their stable which they want to bring along and it's maybe too early to take him into their team, because Ferrari is Ferrari, they don't want to test a driver, they need to have a finished product there.

Mercedes and Ferrari differ on Singapore tyre selections

“So if they ask us to have him for a year or two, to develop him, why not but at the moment these discussions are not taking place. But if there is a good driver in the future, we always talk with Ferrari and we are pretty close to them as everybody knows, for sure.

“It's similar like Mercedes does maybe with Manor, they've got two drivers there at Manor who they developed because they've got Mercedes engines, but there is nothing in the pipeline at the moment.”

As well as Leclerc, Ferrari's Driver Academy includes Antonio Fuoco (2nd in GP3), Giuliano Alesi (21st in GP3) and Guanyu Zhou (14th in European F3), though speculation suggests it is looking closely at GP2 title contender Antonio Giovinazzi.

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