Formula 1

Nico Hulkenberg replaces Mick Schumacher at Haas for 2023

Chetan AnandChetan Anand

November 18 2022

The 35-year-old makes full-time comeback after three years.

After a long time of consideration, the Haas F1 team have made it official that they have ditched Mick Schumacher for Nico Hulkenberg. The 35-year-old German will feature in the 2023 grid as the starting driver for Haas. The speculations started long back but the team finally made it official on Thursday. In him and Magnussen, Guenther Steiner will have one of the most experienced driver pairings to work with.

After getting replaced by Esteban Ocon for Renault in 2020, Hulkenberg made several appearances in F1 as a standby driver. He filled in for Sergio Perez at Racing Point for two races in 2020 Later that year, he filled in for the other Racing Point driver Lance Stroll for the Eiffel Grand Prix. Hulkenberg continued his role as a reserve driver when Lawrence Stroll rebranded Racing Point as Aston Martin. He replaced Sebastian Vettel for the opening two races of 2022 after his German compatriot tested positive for COVID-19.

“Experience was key for signing Hulkenberg”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has indicated in the past that he wants to work with experienced drivers. He made it clear that Hulkenberg’s experience was key to him getting the nod for the 2023 seat. 

“I’m naturally very pleased to be welcoming Nico Hulkenberg back to a full-time racing role in F1,” Steiner said. “The experience and knowledge base Nico brings to the team is clear to see – with nearly 200 career starts in F1 – and a reputation as being a great qualifier and a solid, reliable racer. These are attributes, which when you pair them together with Kevin Magnussen’s experience, give us a very credible and well-seasoned driver line-up which we believe will help push the team onward up the grid.

Hulkenberg said: “I feel like I never really left Formula 1. I’m excited to have the opportunity to do what I love the most again and want to thank Gene Haas and Gunther Steiner for their trust. We have work ahead of us to be able to compete with all the other teams in the midfield, and I cannot wait to join that battle again.”

Indian Sports Live Coverage on Khel Now

“Schumacher was given time,” says Steiner

Hulkenberg’s return is something every F1 fan finds amusement in. But it came at the expense of Mick Schumacher. The 23-year-old German was a part of the all-rookie Haas lineup in 2021. That car was nowhere drivable and the team gave up for the year early. The focus turned to the new regulations, which showed in the performance at times.

In the very first race of the season, Haas returnee Kevin Magnussen qualified seventh and finished the race fifth. Mick outperformed left-right and centre. The story continued and pressure kept mounting on the young German. Moreover, the crash damage spending chart came and it turned out that Mick has caused the most amount of money over the two seasons. The wreckage caused by him cost Haas the most amount of money. Being the team with the least budget, this certainly didn’t please the American squad. The time came when Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner started considering suitable options for the next year.

Steiner reveals that Mick had an ample amount of time. In fact, as per him, the contract wasn’t signed until this very Wednesday. The team wanted to give Schumacher time to develop. This is partly why it took so long for Haas to finally announce who will drive for the team next season. The team wanted to give Schumacher enough time to develop and prove himself. “The contract with Hulkenberg was only signed on Wednesday. There was no earlier point that we had already taken the decision. When I said ‘I don’t know yet’ last summer, I didn’t know yet.”

With only one race left in the season, Haas is eighth in the constructors with 37 points. They got their first-ever pole in Brazil last week when circumstances fell in Magnussen’s way for him to grab one. His teammate ended dead last in the same qualifying session. That’s where everything could have been sealed for every party.

For more updates, follow Khel Now on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and join our community on Telegram.