Pietro Fittipaldi has the nod for the upcoming Bahrain test but Gene Haas is still “looking at several candidates” to fill Nikita Mazepin’s race seat.
Mazepin was axed by Haas over the weekend, both the Russian driver and his Russian sponsor, Uralkali, given their marching orders.
Haas’ decision to cut ties with the Mazepin family came in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“There was a lot of intense criticism about the Ukrainian invasion and it was just getting overwhelming,” team owner Haas told The Associated Press.
“We can’t deal with all that, our other sponsors can’t deal with all that.”
The team is now on the hunt for a new team-mate for Mick Schumacher with reserve driver Fittipaldi one of several options.
The 25-year-old grandson of two-time F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi will drive the VF-22 in this week’s three-day Bahrain pre-season test but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the one behind the wheel come the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
“We’re in the process of looking at several candidates,” Haas said.
“We’ll see who is available and what we have to deal with, but we’ll have somebody by Wednesday.
“Pietro will definitely be in it, that’s what he’s for, he’s the test driver.
“I think we’d obviously like to get someone with a bit more actual experience.
“We just have to see what’s available.”
According to BBC Sport, three drivers are on Haas' shortlist to replace Nikita Mazepin.
– Pietro Fittipaldi
– Oscar Piastri
– Jehan Daruvalahttps://t.co/COns6TSL1Y #F1 pic.twitter.com/C3QUcyp193
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) March 6, 2022
The team’s short list reportedly includes Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi, who lost his F1 race seat at the end of last season, and Alpine’s reigning Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri.
Fittipaldi previously contested two races for Haas, filling in for Romain Grosjean in 2020 after the Frenchman was injured in a fiery crash.
Fittipaldi was last in both races.
Haas was also quick to quash any suggestion that his Formula 1, having lost the Uralkali money, are now in trouble.
“We’re good. We’re fine. We’d like more money, of course, but we’re fine,” he said. “This just gives us a bigger negative number.”
He added: “Haas has always been the major, primary sponsor, I don’t know why people said it became a Russian team. Haas Automation was always on the car.”
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