Haas Formula 1 chief Gunther Steiner says it was a “close call” to choose Romain Grosjean over Nico Hulkenberg for the team’s vacant 2020 seat, with continuity being the defining factor in its decision.

Haas announced on Thursday that it would be running an unchanged line-up for the 2020 season, retaining Grosjean alongside Kevin Magnussen, who was already known to be under contract.

Hulkenberg had been a consideration for Haas after losing his Renault seat for next year to Esteban Ocon, but Steiner stressed the importance of stability for the team with its line-up.

“It was a close call, because they are both very good drivers, and I hope Nico stays in F1 as I like him and he’s a good driver,” Steiner said on Thursday in Singapore.

“In the end we decided to stay with Romain. He has been 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 have in the car. It is the car, we are open about that, conscious about that.

“Now changing driver, I don’t know if it would help us to 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. We didn’t want to have any more unknowns.”

Steiner said the decision to keep Grosjean was taken last week following the Italian Grand Prix, and that an offer was never made to Hulkenberg.

“We decided to take Romain, but I don’t know if Nico would have come. We spoke with Nico, but he didn’t say ‘I am coming’,” Steiner said.

“We didn’t get to that point to say are you coming. We spoke, but we never made a formal offer. So I don’t know if he would have accepted or not. That you need to ask him.”

 

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