Ralf Schumacher is eager to see Nico Hulkenberg race for another team in F1 – anyone at all, except for Haas.
Hulkenberg has proven that he’s lost none of his speed during his time away from F1, having returned to the sport with Haas this year ater last racing as a full-timer in 2019.
The German has constantly had the measure of Kevin Magnussen, particularly in qualifying, although Haas’ lack of race pace has meant he’s only had one points finish in 11 races.
Ralf Schumacher: Any other option would be better for Hulkenberg
Given Haas’ relative lack of pace on Sundays, Ralf Schumacher reckons his compatriot needs to find a way into a seat at any other team if he wants to secure a long-term future in the sport again.
Writing in his column for Sky Germany, Schumacher wrote: “Any other cockpit would be better for Hulkenberg.”
“In terms of his future, it is questionable how many other F1 options there are for Hülkenberg. Probably any option would be better for him than Haas.
“You get the impression from the outside that there is more potential in the other teams. At Williams, for example, a lot of money is being invested and there is new momentum there, but also at Alpha Tauri. At Haas, on the other hand, you get the impression that things are at a standstill.
“But finding a new cockpit for Nico is not easy. He has a bit of an image that he is a perfect qualifier, but can’t quite fulfil his potential in the race, so he really wants to have a good race car. I think he’s struggling a bit right now with the fact that he doesn’t have the opportunity to prove that. Nevertheless, I think he’s doing a great job.”
What other options does Nico Hulkenberg have?
Schumacher’s anti-Haas sentiment should be taken with a pinch of salt, as he and team boss Guenther Steiner haven’t seen eye to eye in quite some time. This is as a result of Schumacher having a personal interest in the career of former Haas racer Mick Schumacher – Ralf’s nephew.
Ralf spent a lot of 2022 complaining about the treatment that Schumacher was given at Haas, stating his belief that the young driver – in his sophomore year – was not being given adequate support and encouragement – a feeling that wasn’t shared by Steiner.
Haas may not have as competitive a car this year as they had in ’22 but, with the budget cap regulations slowly maturing, there’s no reason to think Haas can’t be more competitive as the seasons tick by – not a bad position for Hulkenberg to be in, as Haas have shown long-term loyalty to their experienced drivers in the past.
Realistically, where else could Hulkenberg go? AlphaTauri have their own stable of drivers, due to them being a proving ground for Red Bull, Williams are more likely to opt for the likes of Mick Schumacher due to team boss James Vowles’ links to Mercedes, while Alfa Romeo Sauber have their eye on the future for when Audi arrive – an aging Hulkenberg is unlikely to be at the top of the shopping list.
A return to Aston Martin or Alpine – both of whom he’s raced for already – also seem unlikely, due to their own respective junior programmes. It’s a similar situation at McLaren where, even if a shock transfer happened to open up a seat in place of Lando Norris or Oscar Piastri, Zak Brown has quite a few prospects – such as Alex Palou – waiting in the wings.
It’s unlikely, then, that another option is open to Hulkenberg, who can only continue do what he is doing by establishing himself in the dominant position in their hierarchy.