Three years after his last Formula 1 start with Renault, Nico Hulkenberg will spend the 2023 season with Haas F1, replacing Mick Schumacher.
So the challenge will be huge for the 35-year-old German, who shone in his four replacements between 2020 and 2022, but he is not worried about next year and is confident he is in top form.
“I want to be the best version of myself and it’s always exciting to start a project with a new team, to meet everyone for the first time and get started. As the third driver. There’s no pressure to perform, but I wanted to do it. Come back to competition and racing.”
“After three years, I don’t feel out of touch. On the contrary, I feel fresh, rested and hungry again. There are some things I would do differently. I had a break and time to think and evaluate. Everything. I’ve done great things in the past too . Kevin and I want to take the team forward and optimize what we have. The season will be long with 24 races. Hopefully we can get good results.”
“mutual respect” with Magnussen
Hülkenberg will indeed be teaming up with Kevin Magnussen, his much-hyped rival at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix. But at the beginning of the year, the two had the opportunity to discuss and discuss. “break the ice” As the German pilot explained.
“I expect us to have a good relationship. We broke the ice earlier this year, forgetting about this incident. I would greet him like I did during the incident in 2017, “It’s funny and fun. I have. Don’t worry at all about running alongside him. We are adults and we respect each other. We will run for the team. There will be no problem.”
The two Haas F1 drivers have one thing in common: they both made a comeback after leaving Formula One. For Hulkenberg, it is above all a mental matter of believing in a comeback in the discipline.
“When your career is on hiatus, you keep a professional approach and keep giving it your all. But I think a lot goes through your head in this sport. You have to be happy and have the right situation. That’s also what keeps you confident. If you’re going into a cycle and “If you don’t have all of those things, things get difficult. Then you start being asked uncomfortable questions, and that can affect your performance. You have to know how to separate yourself from that. Create a new virtuous circle.”
Mick Schumacher still has ‘a long way to go’
Hulkenberg also paid tribute to his predecessor Mick Schumacher, who he sees rallying in 2023. He also defended Nicolas Latifi after he collided with him during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“He’s young and ambitious. I’m sure whatever he does next year, he’ll have time to digest and learn. He’ll bounce back. He’s still got plenty of time.”
“It’s never good to end a season with a mistake, but it’s also important to note that Goatifi used an amazing trajectory going into the corner: he went around before he came back and I don’t think Mick was expecting it. It was a bit strange. Not at all who really doesn’t blame Mick and I wish him all the best for the future.”
Does he feel guilty about driving his young compatriot out of Formula 1?
“No, because in F1 it’s natural. We’re all fighting for our careers, for the same piece of tarmac. Many drivers in their careers have had to change lanes for another guy, whether it’s for more experience – 2 more years or 10 more years. year – or for more talent or both.
“That’s how F1 is and ultimately the driver has to convince the team with his performance when he goes into the race. If not, the team will change it. Even with the engineers, with the whole staff.”
This Tuesday, Hülkenberg will explore the VF-22 during a test day and therefore take his first steps as a Haas F1 driver.
“Tomorrow the most important thing will be to experience and understand the Haas F1, which will give me a great start to next year. We only have three days of winter testing before the first Grand Prix is enough. See this car for the first time and see how all its systems work. look, it will already be done.”