Haas F1 owner Gene Haas has provided a progress update on his team's search for a new driver following the dismissal of Nikita Mazepin.
The Russian driver, brought to Haas alongside funding from 2021 title sponsor Uralkali, will not race for them in 2022.
It comes in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with strict economic sanctions being placed upon Russian businesses like Uralkali – Haas reacting by immediately pulling their branding. Days later, the team confirmed that Uralkali, as well as Mazepin, have been dropped for 2022.
Haas last week confirmed to RacingNews635.com that an announcement as to who will replace Mazepin will be confirmed this week, as the team prepare to take to the track in Bahrain for the final three days of pre-season testing (10-12 March).
The obvious choice is Haas test driver Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of multiple F1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
Fittipaldi is the man expected, but not yet confirmed, to drive for the team in Bahrain this week, but the team may seek a driver with more experience to fill the position full time, Haas has said.
"I think we'd obviously like to get someone with a bit more actual experience," Haas told the Associated Press. "We just have to see what's available."
Fittipaldi likely to drive during Bahrain test
Haas F1 will take to the track on Thursday (10 March) for the first of three days of official pre-season testing before the F1 season gets underway.
That gives them just 48 hours to find a driver to replace Mazepin for testing, with some added time to replace him full-time for this month's season opener.
Fittipaldi is, for now, the frontrunner to land the role given his close ties to American motorsport – but the team are yet to confirm for certain who will drive in Bahrain, even if Haas himself has branded the youngster's step up as a definite.
"We're in the process of looking at several candidates; we'll see who is available and what we have to deal with, but we'll have somebody by Wednesday," Haas said.
"Pietro will definitely be in it, that's what he's for – he's the test driver."
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Who could fit the bill for Haas F1?
As Haas cast their eye over replacement drivers with F1 experience than Mazepin, there are only limited options available to them who qualify for an FIA Super Licence.
Antonio Giovinazzi and Nico Hulkenberg are two eligible drivers who remain without Formula 1 drives for 2022.
Giovinazzi left Alfa Romeo at the end of the 2021 season, while Hulkenberg is a test and reserve driver for Aston Martin.
Ex-Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen also have the necessary experience, but have both recently embarked on fresh adventures for 2022, with Grosjean in IndyCar and Magnussen in sportscars.
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