Liam Lawson could be in line for a promotion to the FIA Formula 2 grid next year as the Formula 1 silly season continues to ravel out.
The speculation stems from several reports in Europe suggesting Hitech GP F2 driver Nikita Mazepin will be joining Haas F1 Team next year.
Haas are looking for two new drivers after the team confirmed on the eve of last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix that Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will leave the team at the end of season.
Team boss Guenther Steiner has already stated he is not opposed with Haas running two rookie drivers for 2021.
The leading candidate for one of the two vacant seats is F2 championship leader Mick Schumacher.
Son of seven-time world champion Michael, Schumacher has been linked to drive at Alfa Romeo for next year, replacing one of either Kimi Raikkonen or Antonio Giovinazzi.
However, with Haas a customer team to Ferrari, the team could take advantage of the partnership to swoop up Schumacher who is one of the leading Ferrari Academy drivers set to make a jump to F1.
Steiner has indicated that Schumacher is on the team’s radar for a seat in 2021.
“I think Mick, now leading the F2 championship, says it all,” Steiner said at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
“I don’t think we need to say any more than that. He’s in his second season in F2, he’s leading the championship—I wouldn’t say by a good margin—by a nice margin, so I think he’s doing a good job and I think for sure he’s ready for Formula 1.”
Steiner added that an announcement of the team’s 2021 line-up won’t be made for at least several weeks.
“We will try to announce as soon as possible who our drivers are, so we stop this guessing.
“Hopefully it isn’t long, maybe a month or so away, and then everybody gets to know but it’s just one of the things, if you do contracts, you are obliged not speak about it.”
The other contender for the second Haas seat is Mazepin whose billionaire father would bring substantial financial support to the team.
The young Russian is currently tied for fifth in the F2 championship, seven-points adrift of Yuki Tsunoda in third. He has also claimed two feature race wins in his debut season, coming at Silverstone and Mugello.
If Mazepin retains his place among the top seven in the standings after the four remaining rounds of the F2 series in Bahrain, he will be eligible for an F1 Super Licence.
Should Mazepin make the promotion to F1 next year it will leave a vacant spot in the Hitech GP line-up, which would align with Lawson who this year competed for the British outfit in F3.
The Kiwi ended the season fifth in the standings with three race wins and six podiums.
Lawson has been rumoured to make a promotion in line with fellow Red Bull junior driver Juri Vipps. The two are seen as a long-term solution to Red Bull’s future driver line-up.
Nevertheless, Lawson says any contract deals for next season are now out of his control as waits and sees what happens above him.
“There is no contract in place yet for 2021 and it’s not something I can influence so I just have to wait and see,” he said.
“I’m not worried about next year right now. I just want to enjoy being home and spending time with my family.
“It’s been a tough year with Covid. No-one has been able to come to Europe this year so I’m just loving being home.”