Nico Hulkenberg and ‘everybody with a superlicence’ is on Haas’ shortlist
Nico Hulkenberg could soon be back in Formula 1 full-time if recent reports linking him to Haas prove to be correct.
The German has become somewhat of a super sub in Formula 1 of late having stepped in for Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin during the opening two races of the season.
Hulkenberg fulfilled the same role in 2020 when he starting two races for Racing Point, scoring 10 points and put his car up in third place on the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix grid.
But it has now been three seasons since the 35-year-old raced full-time in Formula 1 having last done so for Renault but that could be about to change if he makes a move to Haas.
With Mick Schumacher’s contract set to expire at the end of this season and little talk that it will be extended, speculation has turned as to who will be sitting in the seat on the opposite side of the garage to Kevin Magnussen in 2023.
Daniel Ricciardo had been a name that was linked although that has now gone cold and his former Renault team-mate Hulkenberg is the latest to be linked with the seat.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Haas boss Steiner said that Hulkenberg was a candidate but only because he possess a superlicence.
“Everybody with a superlicence is on the list,” Steiner said. “I think he’s a candidate like all the other ones, because he’s got a superlicence, he has done F1, he has experience.
“I mean, there is nobody who is racing now that you could get if you wanted to change. We just have to see what is the best decision.”
Who is in pole position for the Haas seat?
Whether it is be design or through little progress having been made, Steiner is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to who will be the driver for next year.
The incumbent, Schumacher, looks increasingly unlikely to be given an extension given his relative lack of points this season but Steiner has continued to insist that the young German is still a candidate.
Perhaps the biggest name linked to the seat was Ricciardo who reportedly had a phone call with Steiner ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix but that speculation has gone cold as of late.
Hulkenberg’s relatively late emergence into the running suggests there is some merit behind the rumour and he would no doubt jump at the opportunity having had a relatively long time out of racing.
But, perhaps, an outside choice could be Antonio Giovinazzi. The Italian has not fared well in Formula E this season having been replaced by Zhou Guanyu at Alfa Romeo last year but his recent runout with Haas at the Italian Grand Prix saw him impress. He is due for another test with the team at the United States Grand Prix in October.
Get ready for the second half of the season with the latest ‘Hulk Report’. 💪
AMF1 Reserve Driver @HulkHulkenberg takes a look back on the year so far and what’s to come, ahead of the #BelgianGP.
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) August 23, 2022
F1 teams are required this year to run a rookie in two FP1 sessions but given Giovinazzi does not fit the criteria of having raced two or fewer grands prix, it suggests there could be another reason behind his appearance. Steiner has insisted too much should not be read into it.
“People think too deep into it,” Steiner said. “It was more that Ferrari asked us to run their reserve driver, it was not ‘now we need to test him and take a conclusion out of this.’
“He did a very good job coming in, he has never driven this regulation car. He was on the on the ball immediately, he was very good.”
Given his short time outside of F1 and the fact he would strengthen the ties between Haas and their engine supplier Ferrari, the 28-year-old could prove to be an astute signing.