Esteban Gutierrez has revealed he started work at Haas "several weeks ago". The Mexican was unveiled as Romain Grosjean's teammate for the new American team at the end of October. In Abu Dhabi this weekend, he is rounding out his duties as Ferrari's reserve driver, but his work at Haas "started already several weeks ago", Gutierrez told EFE news agency. "Everything I've seen so far is very good," the former Sauber driver said. This week, Haas revealed its new pitwall gantry for 2016 and grey-coloured garage hoardings.
Gutierrez's race seat comes thanks to his Mexican backers and links to Ferrari, with the Italian team working closely with Haas for 2016 and beyond. "This grand prix (in Abu Dhabi) is a little sad," he said, "because I have been like in a family all year long. It was a very special year but also an incredible new chapter starts now for me."
An Italian media source denied speculation Haas could poach Rob Smedley - formerly a long-time Ferrari race engineer - from Williams to be the American outfit's new technical director. Williams also denied the rumour. Another figure linked with a move to Haas has been Ferrari's ousted engineering chief Pat Fry, but the source denied that rumour as well.
Also excited about his impending switch to Haas is Romain Grosjean, who after the best part of a decade at Enstone - Renault and Lotus - is finally moving on to his second team in F1. "I think I have already been seduced by their approach," said the Lotus driver in Abu Dhabi, grinning that just saying the word 'Haas' is "very hard for a Frenchman". Straight away the spirit was 'let's go racing' and I liked that," added Grosjean. "I really like their philosophy and have been discovering more and more about America." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing