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F1 Malaysian GP: Haas rules out Leclerc or a rookie for 2017

Guenther Steiner says Haas is not seeking a rookie driver for the 2017 F1 season, ruling out development driver and GP3 leader Charles Leclerc
Guenther Steiner says a 'rookie is not an option' for Haas next season, effectively ruling out the prospect of GP3 leader Charles Leclerc joining its race driver line-up for 2017.

The Monegasque driver is currently out front in the GP3 Series standings with two rounds remaining and has made a handful of FP1 and test appearances with the Haas F1 Team in his role as development driver.

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With Esteban Gutierrez's seat understood to be under threat for 2017 having so far failed to score a point this year, Leclerc had been tipped to follow in the footsteps of Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat in making the direct move from GP3 to F1.

However, such a deal appears to have been ruled out by Steiner who says the Haas is not considering a rookie for 2017 as it looks to develop its fledgling team.

“A rookie is not an option at the moment, it's not the thing we want to do,” he said. “I think in the position we are in, Charles is too inexperienced. I wouldn't say too young - I mean Max Verstappen does a good job - but it's difficult that you get in two years two 18-year-olds that are rockets. But the main reason; we highly respect what Leclerc is doing in FP1 he was on the game immediately, but what we need it's more somebody who can score points.

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“We need to train the team basically, we cannot train a driver so, as I always said when I was asked last year about Alexander Rossi, that could break somebodies career. We are still relatively new next year, we are the second year, if we take a new driver and he doesn't perform it could be us as well that don't perform.

“Why would you take a risk? For sure take a risk if there is no other opportunity, so they take the risk, they would take it but then if it doesn't work out for sure we would be blamed and that I think is not right. We need to look after ourselves and make the team bigger so we are ready for young talent.”

Though such a remark suggests Gutierrez's hopes of keeping his position have been strengthened, Steiner remains coy on his future.

“We will see. As we said a few races ago, we wait a little bit longer but I mean he had a pretty good race weekend [in Singapore]. There was a problem at the start which was not his fault and we see how he does here.”

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