Esteban Gutierrez looks to Manor after confirming Haas exit

Esteban Gutierrez currently races for the Haas F1 Team. (Photo: Andy Hone/LAT Photographic)

Late on Thursday night Esteban Gutierrez used social media to confirm that he is not driving for Haas in 2017, ahead of the expected announcement from the team that Kevin Magnussen will replace him.

The Mexican’s exit has been anticipated for some time, and his management has been pursuing other options.

Gutierrez wrote: “I want to share with you that I will no longer be with Haas F1 Team for the next season. I want to thank all the team and staff, specially Gene Haas for this opportunity to work with them. I wish them all the best. There are two races left, which I intend to enjoy to the fullest and as always, I’ll give my best.

“Special thanks to all my fans and supporters, you will always have a place in my heart. I hope to shortly share my plans for the future. Warm regards!”

Manor Racing is his final chance to find a place on the 2017 F1 grid as other teams finalize their lineups. Assuming that Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are confirmed soon at Sauber, Gutierrez will be the last driver on the 2016 grid without a place for next year – and Manor will have the last available seat, with Pascal Wehrlein set to stay on for a second season. It’s understood his management contacted Manor over the Mexican GP weekend.

One of the complications is that that Gutierrez’s main backer Telmex is involved with Ferrari and thus Haas in large part because of his presence. It’s believed that the telecommunications giant will leave Haas but stay with Ferrari. However, it remains to be seen whether it would be willing to add Manor to a roster that also includes Force India.

Before he confirmed his departure, Gutierrez spoke about his future: “I think on Monday will be the right time to think about it. Right now it’s important to focus on the weekend. Obviously through the weekend there’s going to be a lot of talks. That’s how it is, and I’ll accept the situation, and move forward.”

Gutierrez said he hadn’t thought about whether it would be even more difficult to return in 2018 if he doesn’t race next year.

“To be honest I’m not thinking about that at the moment. I just want to focus on the moment, enjoy as much as possible, and then see, after the reality [of] whatever will be, then I have to think about it. As the decision is pretty late I just have to wait for the yes or the no, that’s the situation as it is.”