July 21, 2017 / 2:41 PM / a month ago

Haas to stick with same drivers next season

Melbourne, Australia - 19/03/16 - Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean sits with his damaged car in his team garage after colliding with Manor Racing F1 driver Rio Haryanto in pit lane during the third practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne.Brandon Malone

LONDON (Reuters) - The Haas Formula One team will have the same driver lineup of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen next season, owner Gene Haas said on Friday.

"We will run with the same drivers that we have this year again next year. That is a given," he told the official Formula1.com website.

"And given the other continuity aspects, we should be better racers next season."

The only U.S.-owned outfit on the starting grid are currently seventh in the 10-team championship at the halfway stage with 29 points, the same amount that they scored in all of their debut 2016 season.

Experienced Frenchman Grosjean scored all of the team's 2016 points but Denmark's Magnussen, who replaced Mexican Esteban Gutierrez at the end of last year, has taken 11 from the 10 races so far.

"My guess is that we will score at least another 29 points," said Haas. "And next year, without a big car or engine change, and with the drivers the same, that should give us a nice continuity boost."

Haas have Ferrari engines and a close working relationship with the Italian team, which has put them in the spotlight as a possible home for promising young drivers backed by the sport's oldest and most successful team.

Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, Ferrari's reserve driver, tested with Haas in first Friday practise at the British Grand Prix a week ago and is due to make more appearances.

Ferrari-backed Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc is leading the GP2 feeder series and is another tipped to enter Formula One with a Ferrari-powered team.

Those options look limited, however, with Ferrari-powered Sauber due to switch to Honda engines next season -- although recent management changes at the Swiss-based team have cast doubt on that deal.

If Sauber do switch to Honda, that would leave Haas as Ferrari's only customer team.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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