Nico Hulkenberg, Aston Martin, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

Hulkenberg seals F1 return by joining Haas for 2023

2023 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg will return to the Formula 1 grid in a full-time capacity next year, having been signed by Haas to replace Mick Schumacher.

Haas made the announcement on Tuesday ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, shortly after confirming Schumacher will not return to drive for the team next year. Hulkenberg completes their 2023 line-up alongside Kevin Magnussen.
FHulkenberg last completed a full season of F1 in 2019 with Renault, now Alpine. Since then he has been a reserve driver for Aston Martin (previously Racing Point), and has been called up to race five times over the past three seasons. He will make his debut for Haas in the post-season test at Yas Marina on Tuesday.

“I feel like I never really left Formula 1,” said 35-year-old Hulkenberg. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to do what I love the most again and want to thank Gene Haas and Günther 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.”

Although Hulkenberg is yet to reach the podium in his 181-race F1 career, he does have a pole position and two fastest laps in midfield machinery. He also took overall victory in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche.

“I’m naturally very pleased to be welcoming Nico Hülkenberg back to a full-time racing role in Formula 1,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said.

“The experience and knowledge base Nico brings to the team is clear to see – with nearly 200 career starts in Formula 1 – 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, gives us a very credible and well-seasoned driver line-up which we believe will help push the team onwards up the grid.

“That’s obviously the goal and it was that ambition that has prompted Nico’s return to Formula 1 – he shares our vision and can be a key player together with the rest of the team in building on the foundations we’ve laid this year with our return to the points battle.”

It will be Hulkenberg’s third stint as a full-time F1 driver. He joined F1 with Williams in 2010 but lost his seat at the end of the season, despite scoring a surprise pole position at Interlagos, as the team brought in the moneyed Pastor Maldonado. After a year as reserve driver for Force India (now Aston Martin) Hulkenberg was promoted to their race line-up for 2012.

After an unsuccessful one-year stint at Sauber, Hulkenberg returned to Force India and stayed with the team until the chance to join Renault presented itself in 2017.

Ferrari did have eyes on placing their reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi with engine customer Haas for 2023, to replace underperforming Ferrari junior Schumacher. However his crash while driving one of Haas’ cars in a free practice outing at the United States Grand Prix last month is unlikely to have done his cause any favours.

Another driver who had angled for the seat was Robert Shwartzman, also a Ferrari junior and tester and last year’s Formula 2 runner-up. However the Israeli-licensed Russian recently admitted that his dreams of making it into F1 were unlikely to be realised.

Confirmation of Hulkenberg’s return leaves one vacancy yet to be filled on the F1 grid for 2023, alongside Alexander Albon at Williams. This will be taken by Logan Sargeant if the Formula 2 driver finishes high enough in this year’s championship to secure an FIA F1 superlicence.

View the current list of 2023 F1 drivers and teams

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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67 comments on “Hulkenberg seals F1 return by joining Haas for 2023”

  1. Wow. Not what I expected.

    So…is he a pay driver?

  2. Overrated. Never understood the hype around…

    1. Brazil 2012.

    2. Lots of F1 drivers are massively overrated. Some of them even have multiple World Championships.

      1. You talking about MV again?

        1. Do we really think of MV as a “multiple” world champion? Personally I don’t count the first.

          1. Rent free

        2. There’s absolutely no need to get into verstappen’s debate: want an overrated triple champion? Brabham, another piquet, they were carried by the machinery but were not stronger than for example mansell, from what can be seen by mathematical models, very different from example lauda or senna.

    3. Hulkenberg has a more impressive CV in junior formulas than Sebastian Vettel for example. Unless you are an expert motorsport manager that can really rate drivers, most of the fans will jump the hype train using that superficial analysis of “Driver X has done better than driver Y in Z categories then he must be better F1 driver than him”.

      Add to that the fact that drivers entourage and management they usually use their connections in the sport and the media to add even more hype. I don’t know about Hulkenberg but I remember for example there was a lot of hype about Paul Di Resta and Anthony Hamilton who was his manager at the time used Lewis’s success to promote him as the next F1 prodigy.

      Hulkenberg for me is a F1 material, he can win races in a winning car. Though he lacks the magic, the raw talent, to be in the same bracket with the top F1 drivers. He is a B+ driver for me similar to Perez and Carlos Sainz (who he beat in Renault).

      1. Carlos Sainz (who he beat in Renault)

        It’s always tricky to rely on these things.

        Sainz beat Norris and Norris is destroying Ricciardo who beat Hulkenberg…

      2. Any driver on the grid can win a race in a winning car…

  3. He is a well-respected and nice guy.
    Hope he gets the most out of car and team.

    1. Hope he gets the most out of car and team.

      A competent driver and probably the best that HAAS could get without paying silly money to pull a driver from one of the front 3/4 teams.
      I think Schumacher has topped out on his performance.

  4. Wrong decision for me, one great year in the sauber, but never took the great chances when they were there for the taking. Schumacher was a basically a rookie in this years car and had room to grow. For me a young talent paired with Magnussen would be better. Anyway, I guess they have their reasons and I’ll be happy to eat my words.

    1. Also had a great year in the Force India when he got a pole, Schumacher had 3 years and he is for a small team too expensive with all his crashes. I don’t think they can afford him anymore and his support from Ferrari is gone.
      I had hoped he would made big steps this year but failed big time with huge crashes.

      1. Isn’t this Schumacher’s 2nd year?As for the crashes he had 2 big ones but the rest were no worst than other drivers banging wheels, spinning etc.
        Btw it was in The Williams that Hulk got his pole.
        Despite my comments I want to be proven wrong. I’d love for him to to well

  5. I’ll get the cliche out the way: Hulken-back!

    1. ? Explainer for us less knowledgeable guys (though probably it’s just me)

      1. @cairnsfella It’s nothing really, it’s just a phrase that gets rolled out whenever Hulkenberg makes a super-sub appearance.

        1. Ahhhh, Ok. Must have missed it (Was trying to work out if it was meant to sound like something else.)

          Thanks for clarifying.

  6. As much as I am disappointed in Mick without a seat, I am also excited for Nico Hulk to be back in F1. Was always he fans since the Force India days and I hope he excels well here and move on to a race winning team soon. Would love to see him fight for champion with the top teams.

  7. Right next to suck my b***s Mag. lively combination.

  8. Very very happy to see the return of Hulkenberg. People always bring up the podium argument, but other than not having the podium, he has done a very solid job in races, and additionally a fantastic qualifier (probably within the top 5 in the current grid). At 35 being recalled without being a pay driver, he really has to be that good, otherwise it simply wont happen. I absolutely hope he gets that elusive podium in his second innings.

    1. I definitely think, if he gets back to his old level, he should beat magnussen.

  9. Three Dutch speaking drivers on the grid next year, there’s a first ever.

    Happy to see Hulkenberg back honestly, should have never lost a seat in F1 in the first place. A very solid driver with flashes of greatness is perfect for Haas, Kevin is also one of those, but way more of a loose cannon than Nico. They’ll definitely be the best pairing that team has ever had. Should be fun.

    1. Haha lol he speaks Dutch well enough :) Hulk bring a stable drive and lots of points being in the midfield.

    2. Stoffel Vandoorne: “Am I a joke to you?!”

      (Stoffel, Max and Hulk all speak Dutch and raced together in 2017/18/19 ;-) )

      1. *That’s ’16/’17/’18..

      2. I mean Flemish is a form of Dutch I suppose, so I’ll narrow it down to the King’s Dutch.

        I kid, you’re right, I did forget about Stoffel, but to be fair, he was quite forgettable during those years.

        1. Haha can’t argue there.. I bet Stoffel himself would sometimes like to forget that period as well.

        2. @sjaakfoo There are three official languages in Belgium: Dutch, French and German. Flemish is a dialect of Dutch and is the name commonly used, but officially it is Dutch :P

  10. I am not a huge fan or a detractor of Hulkenberg. When I suggested he might be an option for a return to Haas a few weeks ago, people were making comments like he was too old and he could not offer anything at this stage of his career. Yesterday’s man! Well it seems I was correct.

    Honestly I think the decision is a little odd because for Haas, I think the combination of a mature driver like Magnussen and a youngster was the optimum one. However I do expect Nico to do a reasonable job.

    1. I agree, it’s strange. Two seasons ago they put in two young drivers, including one obvious pay driver. Now they go back to two older drivers, neither of whom I think is bringing much budget. Maybe they just prefer that model after years of K-Mag and Grosjean, but the older driver/younger driver model I think works better, and I worry if they’re going to have enough budget to race competitively.

      1. @f1hornet They replaced 2 point scoring drivers with 2 pay drivers, then dropped to the back of the field, once the Russian guys money was frozen, they got a point scorer back and realised their car wasn’t an absolute dud, in good hands like Magnussen it could score points, not in Mick’s hands until he woke up for a couple of races though. Now they’re going back to the original model of genuine point scorers and removing the dead weight that is Ferrari’s pay driver that cost them more than he earned. It’s a smarter model to get a haul of points with mature minds for a team that is pinching pennies. It was great to have new talent come in to F1, but Mick and Mazepin were not talent, Mick wouldn’t have had a sniff of an F1 drive without the Schumacher name and the fact that Mazepin was slower than him is embarrassing for everyone involved.

      2. I mean obviously both were pay drivers, this was outright stated to MAG and GRO when they were replaced and then to media through them. Nikita outright paid for his seat, Mick was a hire for Ferrari’s sake and their new German sponsors didn’t hate it either.

        As for the argument that Haas would need young “hot” talents like some of the other teams, I would have to disagree on that -setting aside if these two would even qualify for that definition. Haas is not a team that is ever going to retain a new hot talent for longer than a season or two at most. Better teams with more money will take them off of their hands sooner rather than later. A Leclerc and Verstappen didn’t spend more than a season (and four races in the latter’s case) at lower teams. Mercedes took a bit longer with Russell at Williams, but that was never a long term deal either. Haas has no chance of keeping a talent like that, so all they’re doing by running a young talent is helping train them for their future. It’s not even like in Footy where they can expect a ROI from “selling” a driver to another team. They’d get the rough talent, the one that crashes and needs patience and time to get better, and then when it’s time to “cash in” on that talent, a bigger team with more cash would take them.

        For Haas it is much better to get two experienced drivers with talent, development skills, that don’t have anywhere else to go and are more than happy to drive for that team for not too much pay. Solid scorers, that you can rely on to get you results, is a much better value.

  11. S**k my b*lls, mate, I didn’t see that coming! :D

  12. I usually like Haas and Steiner, but from the outside I dont get this move at all. Hulkenberg is 35 and presumably a bit rusty. He has a decent, but not exceptional career behind him. He and Magnussen dont get along that great. Schumacher may have binned the car at great expense a couple of times, but Hulkenberg is not known to be a pay driver either. Plus frankly with the new ground-effect cars, the inability to ride kerbs was still a new experience for much of the grid and Schumacher binning it in early season was a bit rookie mistakes at a time when he was still finding his rhythm after the arrival/new pressure of Magnussen. Schumacher is perhaps not his father, but he still has F1 potential and can develop further maturity, and probably has exactly from those crashes.
    Unless they actively try to offload Schumacher because of troubles working together, which cannot be seen from the outside, I struggle to see a net positive. Is Hulkenberg known for being good at providing feedback to engineers? Strange, but I guess time will tell.

    1. Actually Hulk is known for being good exactly at providing feedback and developing the car. He is super addaptable and proved it several times during his career. I expect him to take over the leadership role in Haas and maximaze the potential of the car. This is what Haas is needing and the only reason they prefer Nico instead of Mick.

    2. “It’s interesting, his feedback, because some of the developments that we put on the car were as a direct result of his feedback in Silverstone,” Green explained. “So his feedback after after the race today was very interesting, very intriguing.
      “He mentioned things that he had [wanted to be] changed in the car and how we go about setting the car up and the feel he gets from the car. And we made those changes after Silverstone not expecting him ever to get back in the car again and drive it.
      “But lo and behold he does and we get the feedback about the developments we made on the car. So that was really interesting and really important.”

  13. Given how close have been Kmag & Schumacher in the races from mid-season onwards, i think this is an unnecessary choice.
    Also, Schumacher never had big crashes apart from early in the season.
    Think the team should have focused in getting their Strategic & Pit-Crew game higher rather than changing lineup, but still.

    1. Which Schumacher had big and embarrassing crash after the conclusion of FP1 2022 Japanese Grand Prix? Michael? Ralf? David?

      Good to see at least one Surname driver gone from the grid. Shows nothing for 1.5 season in Formula 3 then magically starts to dominate (all legit, no cheating involved! he just learned how to drive fast!). Goes to F2, finishes P12 in Prema of all teams, then during his 2nd season OBVIOUSLY finds championship pace. It was such a fairytale, son of Micheal Schumacher, after winning F3 and F2 gets to F1. Unfortunately Russia had an amazing idea to invade Ukraine, so his useless Russian team mate is replaced by average Magnussen and… Mick is brutally verified, on top of being responsible for massive crash damage. Liberty still must be super happy though – at least 2 years of squeezing cash from Schumacher fans couldn’t have been bad for their pockets.

      1. Think you’ve not been following the season in Haas close enough.
        You’d know how Schumacher improved since Miami, and how many occasions of Top 10 finishes he lost due to poor strategies, reliability or bad pitstop.

        1. Why did you completely gloss over my comment about Mick’s crash at Suzuka, which shows you were WRONG saying he only crashed early in the season?

          And yes, who cares about Haas? Midfield/backmarker team managed by awful team principal and shady owner with very average drivers, yawn. At least teams like Jordan or Minardi were fun and had soul, Haas is completely souless.

    2. Magnussen literally secured last race’s pole while Schumacher was last…

      1. Again, that’s an example of looking only at results and not watching quali, since it was a typical strategy screw up with the rain.

      2. Schumacher was actually ahead before that.

  14. This has the potential to be one of the best driver pair-ups on the grid. I don’t mean they’ll be battling for victories, but KMag and The Hulk are both solid racers. I wouldn’t read too much into the past with the classic “suck my balls” comment, but there has definitely been “spice” between these two in the past and in the same machinery we will hopefully see more battles between them. It could get quite feisty – which is great for the sport, and Mick never seemed to deliver that.

    Mick seemed like a decent guy, but I just never saw enough exciting driving from him, sometimes a rookie season really showcases something special. The most recent I can think of is Leclerc in the Sauber – it was clear he had real talent to nurture.

    1. No doubt, but haas isn’t looking for a leclerc, a midfield driver should be fine and schumacher definitely had that potential.

  15. Hulkenburg will have now driven for five out of the seven F1.5 outfits on the grid. Only 2 not on his resume are Toro Rosso / Alpha Tauri (obvious!) and Mclaren (he did do an Indycar test for them). And no drive for any of the leading F1 teams (Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari).

  16. Evidence that Ricciardo can get back on the grid after a year or two out… but only with a midfield team

    1. Yes I agree @eurobrun. It does give some hope to Daniel as Nico has not had a full time place on the grid for 3 seasons now. I would like to see him back at some stage.

    2. Doubt it. Ric will always be remembered for having two extremely poor years then being basically fired. He’s completely done.

      At least with Hul, he’s been remembered for having some reasonable one off performances leaving a ‘what if’ behind him.

      1. I think with ricciardo, he can get back to f1 if he can convince the team that he can perform like he did at red bull: they take a big risk, they definitely need a performance clause to get rid of him in case they get the mclaren version.

  17. Haas has sensibly decided they don’t want a star driver but a steady and competent one who has a chance to garner modest points while helping the car development and not stressing the budget by avoidable crashes.

    A team such as Haas really doesn’t want or need super stars nor can they afford, in any sense, to be a training ground for young drivers especially those with marginal talent. They can afford to leave that to richer teams who feel lucky.

    As for the Schumacher PR machine they might reflect on their negative impact on Haas, Mick’s potential and the family image.

  18. Seemed pretty clear this season that whatever you think of Steiner’s “man management” that MSC had ruffled feathers within the team and that was the main reason aside from the massive car repair bills. Maybe a sense of entitlement due to his surname. Maybe just his general demeanour – who knows. It happens, but teams rarely forgive – eg Gasly was clearly never ever going to get a move back to Red Bull having fallen out with Horner and Marko.
    The two things Hulk brings however more than anything else is consistency and if the car is decent he will score points early doors next year. Secondly as pointed out above by other posters yes he is acknowledged at being excellent at engineering feedback – something that seems lacking with Magnussen so I fully expect having driven the car at Abu Dhabi his input will be highly beneficial.

  19. Unsurprising, but I’m still unconvinced that he would necessarily be an improvement from Mick, considering he hasn’t raced actively for nearly three full years.
    My view would be different if he’d raced in F1 full-time throughout these three seasons or at least this season.
    I wonder what ultimately dropped Gio off the list over time, as he hadn’t really been mentioned anymore, even before his FP1 crash.

  20. While I’m pleased for Hulkenburg I’m disappointed for Schumacher

  21. Like Hul or not, his comeback yet again is a reflection of the sad state that F1 is in these days. Few teams want to gamble.

    There are loads of FE, Indycar and probably F2 drivers who would be much better for HAAS in the short and long-term, yet they’d rather lump for a second mediocre driver, rather than using the second seat for potential. Sad.

  22. There is a lot wrong with Motorsport if you have to put him in one of the 20 available seats. Just wow. FIA needs to fix this. I am already not pleased with the level of over 50% of the current field. It can nowadays hardly be called the pinnacle of Motorsport. But then again Liberty is not about the sport but about entertainment, so they won’t push FIA to fix this.

    1. Why are you getting angry over Schumacher being replaced by a more solid driver while we’ve had Latifi on the grid for multiple years.

      1. @paeschli Only time will ultimately tell whether he’s more solid in comparison.
        Without his lack of active racing running throughout the last two years & this year, he’d more confidently be a better option.

      2. @paeschli We’re talking about a driver that’s had plenty of chances (9 full seasons, 181 starts) and just hasn’t delivered anything exceptional. He was only just beaten by Sergio Perez on points over their 3 seasons 226-238 but Perez took 4 podiums over that period and at least one per season. While it doesn’t necessarily help gain constructors championship places, I’ve always thought that a driver who can take a mid-field car to the podium is worth a shot, so I was happy to see Sergio get the Red Bull seat. As for Hulkenberg, a best finish of 4th, and only 3 times at that in a car that was taken to the podium by his teammate, just doesn’t seem to justify a race seat over and F2 driver who’s untested at the top level

        As for Latifi, he’s already been served his P45. I just like to see new talent having a shot, if only to avoid the mess with Piastri because there wasn’t an available race seat for him this season. (ogan Sargeant comes to mind as someone I’d like to see race in F1 over Hulkenberg. It’s disappointing to see Hass not gamble on someone new, or stick with Schumacher for at least one more season.

  23. I’m very excited to see him return and be given another chance. There’s no pressure now so he can let his driving do the talking.

  24. Good news for Daniel Ricciardo – it seems that an average driver can take a couple of years out and still make a return.

  25. So the 2023 grid will have 5 drivers who’ve been out of F1 for at least 1 year before returning (Alonso missed 2019 and 2020, plus 2002 early in his career; Ocon missed 2019; Magnussen missed 2021; Albon missed 2021, Hülkenberg missed 2020, 2021 and 2022 but with a couple “guest drives” in 2020 and 2022, plus 2011).

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