JUNE 20, 2023

Hulkenberg cautiously keen on another year at Haas

Nico Hulkenberg sounds keen on securing another year at Haas.

Nico Hulkenberg, Canadian GP 2023
© Haas F1 Team / LAT

Nico Hulkenberg sounds keen on securing another year at Haas.

The 35-year-old has impressed at the team this year after Haas ousted the underperforming Mick Schumacher - with boss Gunther Steiner hinting in Montreal last weekend that Hulkenberg will once again join Kevin Magnussen in the garage in 2024.

"Sounds good," the German smiled to Sport1 when asked about Steiner's words. "That gives hope for more.

"But I think it's from both sides. It's fun, I'm happy to be back and I'm enjoying it."

However, he also admitted that qualifying so well in Canada before sliding down the field with extreme tyre degradation "obviously hurt".

"But the journey is the reward and I have hope that we can get a handle on that and improve over the course of the year and for next year," said Hulkenberg.

Steiner said the team is working on it.

"It's very clear to see," he said. "If we don't have a clear path and we start fighting, the tyres simply wear out. At least we know what to look for, and we will.

"We are putting our heads together to try to find a solution instead of hiding behind good qualifying results."

According to regular Haas critic Ralf Schumacher, uncle to the axed Mick, Haas needs to think about more than simply working to fix the tyre wear issue.

"They've gotten to a point where they have to think about what needs to change and restructure," he told Sky Deutschland. "Haas is currently the absolute bottom of the field and that cannot be a situation for the long run."

And so, according to fellow German Schumacher, Hulkenberg perhaps needs to think about whether he wants to recommit to Haas for 2024 - or start pushing for a top seat.

"The question is what can Haas offer him?" Ralf said.

"If I were him, I would be asking what steps are being taken to improve the situation. Because one thing is clear - If everything stays the way it is, also in terms of personnel, then not much will change."

Some are even beginning to suggest that Hulkenberg could be an ideal replacement at Red Bull for the struggling Sergio Perez.

"I don't think that's up for debate at the moment," said Ralf Schumacher. "The question is what Red Bull wants.

"They still have (Yuki) Tsunoda, who they have been preparing for a long time and now has experience. Red Bull tends to fall back on their own squad.

"But it (Hulkenberg) would definitely work in terms of performance."

As for Hulkenberg himself, he acknowledges that Haas has some fundamental questions to be asking itself.

"I think mechanically maybe it's the suspension design and the way it's all designed isn't ideal," he said. "Our car feels brutally hard and the bumps in the car are extreme.

"I've never driven such a hard car in my career, it really bothers me," he added. "It makes it nervous and restless, and puts even more strain on the tyres."