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Gene Haas keen to have American driver in new Formula 1 team

Gunther Steiner and Gene Haas

The new Haas Formula 1 team wants an American driver alongside an experienced number one - but only if it can find someone who will not embarrass the sport.

While currently focused on securing a technical partnership with an F1 manufacturer, Haas wants to soon get working on the driver line-up for its 2016 grand prix debut.

Although team owner Gene Haas admits that the perfect line-up would include an American driver, he says that a final decision must be based more on talent than nationality.

"Seat number one is going to obviously be taken by an existing F1 driver that has experience with the current engine package and chassis," he told AUTOSPORT. "And then position two is open.

"It would be great if we could put [an American] in there - it would just be the home run: an American team with an American driver in a European series. That would be phenomenal.

"But we're very flexible on that. Realistically, the number one thing is to make sure we don't embarrass the sport, we arrive prepared and ready to race.

"We don't want to run around at the back forever. We want to be able to start these races and improve every race we go to."

Haas says the experience of Caterham and Marussia, which have struggled to move off the back of the grid in their first four years, shows how tough grand prix racing can be.

"That's why we've delayed it by a year because we think we can better spend the time putting together a team of people than just throwing people at it," he said.

"That's what happens when you get time constraints. Once you hire the wrong people it can sometimes take longer to get rid of them than to hire a competent person if you take the time to hire that person, so that's where we're at now.

"We're going to take our time over the next three to six months making sure the people we hire have the ability to do what we want to get done."


Alexander Rossi, Caterham

Haas expressing hopes of signing an American driver prompted media speculation that Danica Patrick - who drives for the NASCAR Sprint Cup team Haas co-owns with Tony Stewart - could be given an F1 chance.

In fact, when Haas was asked about his driver plans by AUTOSPORT, he replied in a half-joking manner: "We're looking for an American woman driver!"

But while Patrick cannot be ruled out totally - although she would be 34 by the time Haas is on the grid - it is more likely that the team would consider younger Americans with more relevant European experience.

The only American currently involved in F1 is Caterham test driver Alexander Rossi (pictured), who is part of the team's Friday roster and recently took part in practice at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Rossi also races on the grand prix support bill in GP2, where his rivals include compatriot Conor Daly.

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