Haas Formula 1 chief Gunther Steiner has confirmed the team’s interest in Nico Hulkenberg for the 2020 season as a possible replacement for Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean’s future with Haas is known to be in doubt after a difficult start to the season that has seen him score just eight points through the opening 12 races.

While Grosjean is still in contention to keep his drive - saying himself he feels more relaxed about staying with the team than last year - Hulkenberg has emerged as his most serious rival for the drive after his exit from Renault was confirmed on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking prior to Renault’s announcement of Esteban Ocon in Hulkenberg’s seat for 2020, Steiner was asked if the German driver was of interest for next year.

“I would say so,” Steiner said. “There are not many drivers here, as I always said to you. Our team always have drivers with experience, so for sure there is interest.

“There is interest for Ocon. I always said that they are the two, and there is interest for Romain as well, so we just need to decide who we go with.

“They are the three with experience, otherwise I couldn't see anyone else who has got experience who is on the market.

Steiner said the team was “almost there” in making a decision on its 2020 driver line-up, with a decision due to be made in the next few weeks.

“We're almost there. It's not a long time until we will decide what to do,” Steiner said.

“I will spend some time with Gene [Haas] also this and next week. That was always our time, Spa, Monza, where we spend quite a bit of time together and then the team decides what to do.”

Whoever gets the nod for the seat will partner Magnussen next year, with Steiner confirming that the Dane “has got a contract” for 2020.

A rift between Hulkenberg and Magnussen’s has been raised as a possible sticking point for Haas were it to pair them together next year.

Magnussen famously told Hulkenberg to “suck my balls” after being accused of dirty driving at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix. Their rivalry was also profiled in the Netflix ‘Drive to Survive’ series released earlier this year.

However, Steiner insisted their personal relationship would not be a factor in the team’s considerations for 2020.

“We will manage,” Steiner said. “I don't think about that, it's about the team. We are all grown ups, this is a business. I'm sure you have colleagues you don't like to work with, but you still work with them because it's a business.

“We need to be practical on this stuff if it gets there. It is not a thing that would influence what we are doing. That is their problem, not ours, should it happen.”

 

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