Nico Hulkenberg’s ‘quite annoying and persistent’ calls to Haas over F1 seat

Sam Cooper
Guenther Steiner laughing with Nico Hulkenberg. Bahrain February 2023

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner laughing with Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hülkenberg has recalled how he made plenty of “quite annoying” calls to the Haas higher-ups in an effort to get back onto the grid.

The German spent three years on the sidelines of F1 having gone from a full-time seat at Renault to a reserve driver role at Racing Point and then Aston Martin.

With Hülkenberg being the wrong side of 30, few would have predicted he would be back in F1 full time but when Haas were on the lookout for an experienced veteran to replace Mick Schuamcher, Hulk made sure his name was in the frame.

Having become disillusioned with the sport after his stint at Renault, Hülkenberg said he was quite annoying and persistent in his attempt to secure the Haas seat.

“At the end of the Renault time, I don’t know, I just lost my mojo a bit. I didn’t enjoy it so much anymore,” he told RACER. “A couple of things had happened as well, during the season, internally with management. And somehow, it wasn’t a happy place anymore, swiping into the paddock. So I felt at the end of 2019 I knew that the right thing to do was to step away, take some time and then refresh, reset, which is what I did. So that was really nice.

“But then in 2022, I started to feel the itch again, and the desire to be on the grid and to be in the competition. So I started making some calls. Obviously there wasn’t a huge amount of potential deals out there, and it was pretty clear that it’ll come down to here (Haas).

“I think I was on Guenther and Gene’s back from summer last year, quite annoyingly and persistent! I wanted to convince them that this is the right thing to do to hire me. And, it paid off, it worked.”

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Hülkenberg has since defied expectation and currently leads his team-mate Kevin Magnussen in the Drivers’ standings. The 35-year-old put that down to feeling an instant connection as soon as he signed with the team.

“I think it always has got to be a two-way street,” the 2015 Le Mans winner said. “I just feel when I obviously signed the deal and connected with the team, initially last year that there was instantly a good connection and a good harmony with the people in the team.

“It’s something that I’ve always had. You work closely with these people, you spend a lot of time during the year with them and you want to get on, you want to bond, you want to have the banter in between. It’s pretty serious at times, but we have to laugh sometimes, too. And, yeah, I think it just works.”