Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Hulkenberg overshadows Magnussen on return, but both have little to celebrate

2023 F1 team mates head-to-head

Posted on

| Written by

Haas took flak from some quarters for dropping second-year driver Mick Schumacher at the end of 2022.

That criticism was swiftly silenced, however, as his replacement Nico Hulkenberg proved not only a more capable performer than Schumacher, but long-serving Haas driver Kevin Magnussen. The driver who comfortably headed Schumacher 16-6 in qualifying last year was himself shaded by a similar margin – 15-7 – by his new team mate this year.

More importantly, both Haas drivers had greater success keeping their cars out of the barriers than Schumacher did, which had been a key factor in his dismissal. When a wrecked VF-23 did return to the garage on the back of a flatbed it tended to be due to the hazards of racing in the midfield (Brazil) or a technical problem (Mexico).

The news late last year Hulkenberg would be paired with Magnussen prompted some wry smiles as the pair had publicly differed over driving standards in the past. But the much-anticipated fireworks never materialised, which was surely to be expected between two drivers with over 300 grands prix between them before the season even began.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Hulkenberg punched above his weight in qualifying
But while Haas had the safe pairs of hands they coveted for 2023, they did not reward them with a car capable of regularly challenging for points. The VF-23 came out of the box in good enough shape to reach Q3 and still was by the end of the season. But whatever they tried, neither driver could keep its tyres in good shape over a race distance, and they almost invariably reversed out of the points.

The drivers’ best results therefore came when that disadvantage was neutralised. At the Red Bull Ring, where this team has always done well, Hulkenberg put his car on the second row of the grid and clung on to take sixth in a rain-affected race. He took seventh in Australia, thanks to a late standing restart resulting from a red flag caused by his team mate, grateful for the opportunity to regain the position he’d lost a few laps earlier.

While Hulkenberg took the top scores, Magnussen regularly brought his car home, but never higher than his trio of tenth place finishes.

Under the circumstances it’s hard to fault Haas’ decision to stick with an experienced line-up for 2024. But shortcoming on the driving side has only been one facet of this team’s problems, and they head into the off-season knowing there’s much more to gain on the technical side next year.

More team mate battles



Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free


Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Magnussen was faster; Positive value: Hulkenberg was faster

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

30 comments on “Hulkenberg overshadows Magnussen on return, but both have little to celebrate”

  1. Haas seem so at sorts, unable to make any progress and seemingly without the desire to do so. It’s odd that FOM is spending all this time agonising over adding another team when one of the current ones seems to be there just to make up the numbers.

    1. +1 for this reason alone I would love to see as many teams as possible – even if it means they have to bring back pre-qualifying – like in the late 80’s early 90’s (I know it will never happen of course). I think the lack of ambition in Haas a prefect example why it is so important that the current teams don’t have a monopoly to be in F1 or decide who can join their elite club.

      1. I think the lack of ambition in Haas a prefect example why it is so important that the current teams don’t have a monopoly to be in F1 or decide who can join their elite club.

        Andretti will join. The FIA has approved it, and FOM knows that their Concord scheme won’t hold up in any serious anti-trust case. They’ll work something out with Andretti. They’re very keen to avoid outside scrutiny. They already folded super fast when Sauber and Force India wanted more money, and threatened to ask the EU Directorate General for Competition to ‘have a look’.

        1. @MichaelN I agree completely. I don’t see anyway they keep Andretti out.

          Anyway, Magnussen has also been dead weight in F1 for about a decade. Some people complain about Alonso and Hamilton still having seats and blocking “new talent” (I’ve seen very few worthy of coming to F1) and yet this mayor of mediocrity is still around. The best we ever hear of K-Mag is the announcer saying “Magnussen won’t be easy to get around!”

          1. How is he dead weight for a decade @Nick when he buried Mick Schumacher in 2022?

          2. Because Mick Schumacher. I probably would have buried Mick in 2022.

          3. @John Cousins-Mick Schumacher came to F1 as a F2 champion. On merit

          4. @Janith

            A rookie Mick is really your bar? A less experienced De Vries at best. Besides, Mick looked better than Kevin in the last half or third of the season.

          5. Lets gets some facts straight. Mick wasn’t a rookie, it was his 2nd year. Apparently a lot of think 2021 didn’t exist.
            In the last 7 races you refer to, Mick finished ahead 3 times scoring 0 points. Overall Magnussen finished 8 positions better gaining 4 points amongst those points taking pole in Brazil. How is that having the upper hand?
            Mick also destroyed his car before those final races, so he had the last parts, so that when Magnussen had damage, he had to drive with an older spec.
            Mick had a few races in the middle of the season in which he was stronger, not the final third half.

          6. @Nick T-This proves Magnussen is a good benchmark for measuring upcoming F2 drivers. Hulkenberg has always been more talented. And that is not Magnussen’s fault. Hulkenberg is underrated. Only Ricciardo was faster than Hulk in qualifying after his rookie season. Sainz or Perez never did it in any season.

            Plus Piastri gets a lot of praise. But looking back was Magnussen’s rookie season at McLaren much weaker? He measured very well against Button on one lap pace and showed promise. In the races, he had more trouble. But isn’t that expected of a rookie? I don’t remember a single race this year where Piastri was stronger than Norris.

  2. Have nothing against them really, but neither would be much missed. Nor Haas btw.

    1. Silly comment. Hulkenberg is in the top half of drivers. F1 is a sport where car performance dictates everything

      1. I agree Hulk fully deserves to be in F1. I’d take him over Ocon or Gasly in a second.

        1. And Sainz, Perez

  3. It’s been illuminating seeing Magnussen vs Schumacher, then Hulkenberg vs Magnussen. Oh for a world where the drivers are randomised or drafted fresh for each season, and we could get many different matchups over time to tell us where they really stand.

    Also here – with how difficult it is to break into formula one, I’d love it if every bottom five team got to run a third driver or something, as long as they were new to F1. Yes, pipe dream, but we’d find out much more quickly what the youngsters are made of.

    Back to reality, it’s a decent driver lineup, and better than many we’ve seen over time. Let’s just see what next year’s car is like.

    1. Hulkenberg is getting wasted yet again. Why can’t Red Bull give him the 2nd seat? Ugh.

      1. Maybe Hulkenberg doesn’t want to be routinely thrashed by Verstappen every race weekend.

        1. At least he’d get his long awaited podium, and maybe a win as he’s at it.

      2. After being thrashed by Ricciardo, the Hulk is terrified of RBR drivers. I’m kidding, but he was. I still think the Hulk deserves to be in F1 far more than many of the other drivers on the grid, including Bloatas, Zhou, StroLOL, Deputy, Hagnussen and so on. And the F2 candidates are mostly a joke.

        1. Hilarious you say this. Because Bottas have 67 podiums to Hulkenberg’s 0. Proves my point. Hulkenberg always deserved far better

          1. If so he should have beaten Perez straight up or tried the move to McLaren prematurely. The thing with Hulkenberg is that his strength is in qualifying, yet his overall strength as a driver only limits him to a #2 role. Sure he could have taken victories as a result of it, but no top team would have a driver that could out-qualify their #1 regularly and put internal pressure on the team. Perez is a much better option as his strength have always been maintaining the tires, which can be used to put pressure on the other teams in race-strategy.
            Hulkenberg were the name after Bottas on the Mercedes short-list so someone back then made the evaluation – but what was then isn’t what is now and Hulkenberg for sure have looked better than Bottas this season.

    2. Yeah let’s have sprint races done in equal F2 machinery!

      1. This is my dream. Hell, I’d prefer the whole season was done in spec formula cars.

  4. Haas and Sauber, 2 teams who are just making up the numbers today. There seems to be nothing much to write about their Saturday or Sunday performances, car developments.

    We would be better off having Andretti Cadillac

  5. God I hate all these people and comments about Andretti. Haas and Andretti have nothing to do with eachother. Haas isn’t taking up Andrettis spot, they are taking up their own as they have rightfully deserved joining the grid in the vaning years. And apparently people are soon to forget what show Haas have given us these past many years despite their low budget.
    Some talk of their ambition as being none-existing. Right, because Haas isn’t out there trying to find sponsors and get better every year. If not, why are they paid drivers and not just pay-drivers or young drivers with deals behind them.
    This year Haas set a record of being the highest scoring team finishing last. They have been competitive – just not for the entire season.
    Let Andretti be Andretti and Haas, Haas and enjoy the stability we see in F1 on the teams side.

    1. It’s relevant comparison because a major contention of the F1 teams has been that Andretti wouldn’t add any value to the sport and also contended they wouldn’t be more competitive than Haas.

      1. F1 teams have their own agenda, which is trying to secure american sponsors instead of having a team like come Andretti along with an american engine supplyer and “steal” those sponsors. And then there is the distribution of fonds, a pool that would be smaller if Andretti got to join. Haas doesn’t fill the gap as an american team as much as someone with an american engine would so and the history of Andretti.
        F1 teams doesn’t think long term in what such a team could create for them and how it would add spotlight to the sport in america.
        But neither of the above goes against Haas as a team for joining at worse time in terms of income.

  6. Kevin sucked Nico’s balls all season long.

    Nico walked into what was very obviously Kevin’s team, and completely destroyed him.
    I would love to see what Nico could do in Perez’ seat … considering how close they were as teammates, and that the Max focused Red Bull will likely suit Nico’s driving style far better than it suits Perez.

  7. You didn’t watch races did you? Magnussen was often the faster of the two in racetrim. Only because of the awefull strategy in the final race did Hulkenberg have an average finish higher than Magnussens. That’s not detroying anything. Thankfully for Haas and Hulkenberg and his great qualifying sprint races did the difference between the two in the end.

    You’re right about Hulkenberg fitting better with Verstappens way of driving.

    1. Apparently removed it from a reply as it was minded at @Dale

Comments are closed.