Less than half an hour after announcing Mick Schumacher’s exit, Guenther Steiner named Nico Hulkenberg as the German’s replacement for the 2023 season.
It’s been speculated for months now that Schumacher’s days at Haas were numbered, the driver recording more chassis-cracking shunts than points-scoring finishers. That axe was finally wielded on Thursday, Haas confirm they won’t be renewing his contract.
Surprisingly for some, although not others, Hulkenberg’s name appeared on the short list despite the driver having not had a full-time race seat since losing his Renault drive at the end of 2019.
He has remained on the fringes as he filled the role of super sub for Racing Point, now Aston Martin, scoring in two of his four starts.
And with points being exactly what Haas need, the 35-year-old, a Formula 1 veteran with 181 career starts, will partner Kevin Magnussen next season.
“I’m very happy to move into a full-time race seat with Haas F1 Team in 2023,” said Hulkenberg. “I feel like I never really left Formula 1.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to do what I love the most again and want to thank Gene Haas and Guenther 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.”
Steiner praised Hulkenberg as a “solid, reliable racer”, saying that is an attribute Haas need if they want to move up the order.
“I’m naturally very pleased to be welcoming Nico Hulkenberg back to a full-time racing role in Formula 1,” said the Italian.
“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.”
Hulkenberg will start work for Haas on Tuesday when he participates in the end of season Formula 1 test in Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit. He’ll be behind the wheel of this season’s VF-22 alongside the team’s test and reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi in the second car.