Daniel Ricciardo is likely to be without a seat at the start of next season after the only viable vacancy at Haas has gone to Nico Hulkenberg.
With Mick Schumacher missing out on the opportunity to prove his credentials to the Haas management after being given an ultimatum to score points and retain his seat, some had predicted Ricciardo would be a good fit at Haas.
It was the opinion of a former F1 driver that Ricciardo should not take a complete hiatus from F1, rather the Australian driver should look to rediscover his form and Haas would be a good fit for him.
Ricciardo, though, had maintained that he would rather take a year off than race for a midfield team.
That was sure to cause some sort of a response from the Haas management.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said that even if Ricciardo did make a formal approach to him, he would still have preferred Hulkenberg for the job.
Steiner argued that Ricciardo’s sharp fall in fortunes had given the team far too many doubts over his credentials.
“In the beginning, I reached out. Before the McLaren thing happened, I reached out to see what he was doing next year, but then we didn’t go anywhere,” said Steiner.
When asked why talks didn’t progress with Ricciardo, Steiner said, “I don’t know, you ask him”.
Ricciardo was involved in a crash with Kevin Magnussen at last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Did Ricciardo and Steiner discuss deal?
Steiner jokingly said that the incident had made Ricciardo an unpopular character amongst the Haas management.
“He never spoke with me,” said Steiner.
“He still doesn’t speak with me – and he’d better not after last weekend when he crashed into us! So I don’t answer the phone call anymore.”
Steiner, however, argued that the major stumbling point in any negotiations with Ricciardo would have been due to them being unsure about which version of him they were signing.
“Danny this year, obviously, he didn’t do well, otherwise he would still be at McLaren,” said Steiner.
“So I think we have to consider that one as well, we would have known that in the moment is not the height of his career.
“And I still don’t get it because I think he’s a very good driver, because he won races with Red Bull, he was very good. And this year, it just didn’t come together.
“So if you take somebody like this, you take the risk – can you bring him back or not?”
“With Nico, we don’t know.”
Ricciardo never wanted midfield role
As far as Ricciardo is concerned, the McLaren driver stressed that he would much rather prepare himself for bigger challenges ahead than focus on a midfield race and just somehow stay on the grid.
“I was aware there’s the seat at Haas potentially available, the seat at Williams potentially available, so it’s nothing new to me,” he said.
“With my [management] team we’re trying to put together a plan I believe in that’s going to set me up for success in the long term.
“I know I’m 33 but I look at [Fernando] Alonso, I look at Lewis [Hamilton], and if I want to be here and I still have it in my heart then I know I can.
“It’s really now not just looking at next year and just jumping into the first available seat. I’m trying to look a little bit beyond that and back myself to be winning races again.
“You’ve got to weigh it up. I know what it’s been like racing in the front, and then racing in the midfield and all that.
“There are two ways it can go as well. There’s the good scenario where I jump in another car, and it’s awesome. Let’s say I’m back to being me.
“But that could also be I feel awesome, but I’m fighting for P16 and 17. And everyone knows when you’re at the back, you can be doing such a kick-ass job. But if you’re still getting P16, there’s still just a lot of risk with that.
“And also…I’ve been doing it long enough for I’m like, ‘I don’t want to be fighting for that’.
“And there’s no guarantee next year what team is going to be fighting for what position, but at this point, and I know it’s a risk, I want a bit more of a sure thing.
“Otherwise, I’ve been through the grind for the last 18 months. And it’s like, I don’t want to risk just putting myself in a position where I’m going to just be at the back and be like, ‘what am I still doing here?’. I don’t want to resent the sport in a way. I kind of love it too much.”
Giovinazzi blew brief shot
Amongst the other drivers that Haas was looking at was Antonio Giovinazzi.
This was largely due to pressure from Ferrari though, as he is still employed by them as a reserve driver.
When the Italian driver was forced to make an early exit due to a crash during practice at the United States Grand Prix, he lost his shot.
“He was in the beginning on the list of drivers but then I think you can see that we took the best decision for the team in the end – in my opinion, obviously everybody has got their own opinion about drivers,” Steiner said regarding Giovinazzi.
“But I think for us at the moment to do what we want to do and to take the team forward, I think Nico Hulkenberg was the best option for us. And therefore we took him.”