Gunther Steiner has all but confirmed rumours that Haas intends to finalise its 2023 driver lineup ahead of next weekend’s Brazilian GP.
Mick Schumacher’s main rival for the race seat, his veteran German countryman Nico Hulkenberg, said after Mexico that he is “optimistic” of securing the deal.
“We’re close now,” team boss Steiner has now told the German broadcaster ntv.
When asked what Schumacher’s chances are, he said it’s still “50-50” – admitting that the 23-year-old has “definitely gotten better” in recent races.
However, Steiner is no longer following team owner Gene Haas’ line that points finishes might get Schumacher over the line.
“For me it’s no longer about one race, one lap,” said Steiner. “For me, it’s about what’s best for the Haas team in the medium to long term.
“But it’s not like we said ‘if Mick scores points now, he has the place or not’. The decisive factor is ‘who leads the team into the future with stability.”
Hulkenberg’s chances may only have risen with Aston Martin’s news that Stoffel Vandoorne will be the official reserve driver next year.
In 2022, 35-year-old Hulkenberg held that role.
“Stoffel has all the skills we need for this new and expanded role on the team,” said Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack.
“He’s quick, analytical, hardworking and a fantastic team player.”