Haas says Ferrari will not dictate its 2019 F1 driver line-up

Haas Formula 1 boss Gunther Steiner has stressed that Ferrari does not dictate the team's driver choice, as it finalises its 2019 line-up

Steiner emphasised that the team was even free to take a driver like Esteban Ocon - who is tied to Mercedes - and that Ferrari would not step in and prevent such a move.

Ocon is in the market after losing out to Daniel Ricciardo at Renault, and Mercedes is working hard to place him in 2019, with McLaren still regarded as his most likely home.

"We could take him, we may decide not to take him," said Steiner.

"But we can decide that, it's our judgement that counts. We're not told what to do.

"It's more a philosophical thing for us. We have got a good partner in Ferrari.

"I respect Ocon, he's a very good driver."

Along with current incumbents Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean current Sauber driver Charles Leclerc is another candidate for a seat.

Leclerc, who was a Haas test driver in 2016 and ran four Friday FP1 sessions for the team, wasn't considered experienced enough to race for Haas this year.

However he has been widely tipped to move from Sauber for 2019, if there is no seat for him at Ferrari, although Steiner says he is still awaiting firm news on Leclerc's plans.

"There are a few serious candidates out there who still don't have a seat," he said.

"There are not many left, he's obviously one of them but I don't know what he's going to do, I have no information what he's going to do, if he's staying at Sauber, his contractual situation with them, or with Ferrari.

"He's doing a great job. He's stepped up. Last year I wouldn't say we were afraid about the rookie status, but he has passed that one. I have a lot of respect for the guy."

Steiner is also relieved not to have been directly involved in the driver market "madness" of the past few weeks.

"It's very difficult to explain to you guys how we feel," he said. "We feel very comfortable the position we're in.

"We're not taking part in the madness, 'We need this guy, but he wants to go there'.

"We're in a good place. I would love to announce today who we'll have, there's just a few things to figure out, and then we'll do it.

"We are very confident of the position we are in with drivers. We have nothing to hurry."

Steiner said there was no shortage of drivers showing an interest, including some who were not so keen when the team was first starting out.

"We had a lot of approaches, and I respect everybody approaching us," he said.

"In the beginning it was difficult to find anyone to drive for us, now quite a few people want to drive for us for obvious reasons, so it has changed around.

"I'm very confident and not losing any sleep about not having two good drivers next year."

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