September 25, 2015

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) French driver Romain Grosjean is the leading candidate to join the new U.S.-owned Haas Formula One team.

Haas has scheduled a news conference for a driver announcement next Tuesday at its Kannapolis, North Carolina, headquarters.

Grosjean currently drives for Lotus which has severe financial problems and is in ongoing takeover talks. The financial problems meant the team's freight arrived late for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix and its hospitality unit was not in operation on Friday at the Suzuka circuit.

The 29-year-old Grosjean, who made his F1 debut in 2009, says his future is decided.

''I've made up my mind about next season but can't comment further than that,'' Grosjean said after Friday's practice session in Japan.

Haas founder and chairman Gene Haas is co-owner of the successful Stewart-Haas NASCAR team.

The other driver for Haas is expected to be someone contracted to the Ferrari team, as part of the deal for the Italian company to provide Haas with engines.

Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne, both ex-F1 drivers who now serve as reserve and development drivers for Ferrari, are considered to be leading candidates.

Alexander Rossi, the only American competing in F1 after making his race debut with the Manor team last week, has held discussions with Haas but acknowledged his status as an American driver may be overlooked in favor of experience and the Ferrari link.

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