COULD IT BE GROSJEAN? Romain Grosjean could switch from financially-struggling Lotus to the new Haas F1 team in 2016. Image: AFP / Patrik Stollarz
Suzuka - The new US-owned Haas F1 team, due to debut in 2016, is preparing to reveal its first driver next week with Romain Grosjean heavily fancied to switch from troubled Lotus.
Haas, set to use Ferrari engines, scheduled a news conference for a driver announcement next Tuesday (Sept 29) at their Kannapolis, North Carolina, headquarters.
Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez, who drove for Sauber in 2013 and 2014 and is now the Ferrari reserve, are seen as front-runners to race for F1's first American team since 1986.
Haas has said his dream line-up would be a driver from the Ferrari squad and another with F1 race experience.
Grosjean, whose British-based Lotus team has severe financial problems but is hoping to be bought by Renault, told reporters at the Japanese GP he had made his decision but was coy about the details.
Grosjean said: "It should be sooner rather than later. In my mind, it's done. I'm happy with it. You will know soon. You can always change your mind but I think I am pretty pleased with my choice."
Haas, whose founder and chairman Gene Haas is co-owner of the successful Stewart-Haas Nascar team, appear to have ruled out naming an American driver for their debut season.
Team principal Guenther Steiner told the official formula1.com website earlier in September, before Californian Alexander Rossi was drafted in by Marussia for five of the last seven races: "There is nobody out there at the moment."
Rossi, 23 and currently second in the GP2 support series, made his grand prix race debut in Singapore last weekend and finished 14th.
The new team will have bases in three countries - a headquarters in Kannapolis, race team factory in England and a design and aerodynamics department in Italy.