Report: Gutierrez, Vergne in hunt for seat as Haas targets experience

(From left) Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne seen during the 2014 Formula One World Championship season. Gutierrez, racing for Sauber, failed to score a point all season while Vergne finished 13th with 22 points, racing for Toro Rosso.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Soon, Haas’ attention will turn towards signing up the race drivers for 2016. Previously, the team has said it may pair an experienced hand with a rookie.

But Team boss Gunther Steiner now says: "We are looking for two drivers with experience. As a new team, you don’t also want to be running a driving school.

"You need two drivers who already know what they’re doing," he insisted.

Auto Motor und Sport said a Ferrari-linked driver is a near-certainty, with Jean-Eric Vergne apparently the front-runner ahead of Esteban Gutierrez.

As for the other seat, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean and Felipe Nasr are all linked with Haas, while Americans Alexander Rossi and Danica Patrick have been effectively ruled out.

Meanwhile, Haas has defended itself amid speculation it is already bending the rules.

Currently, as it is not yet racing, the outfit is outside of the current wind tunnel testing restrictions.

But its work at Ferrari’s Maranello tunnel recently caught the attention of the governing FIA, triggering an inspection.

Steiner told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport: "In principle, we are doing nothing different to what Force India does at Toyota. We are a customer (of Ferrari’s) in the wind tunnel."

F1: Haas success 'depends on their investment,' says Alonso

However, Haas is making no secret of its close alliance with Ferrari, as it makes the most of the current rules in terms of buying parts from the Italian team.

But Steiner insists that Haas is designing its own chassis.

"We have designed our own chassis. Rob Taylor has been working on it since January."

Much of this work is taking place at Dallara, the Italian chassis manufacturer. Haas also has a headquarters in North Carolina, and yet another in Banbury, at the former Marussia base.

Steiner denies that Dallara is making the Haas car.

"We have our own offices at Dallara," he said. "It’s like a company within a company."

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