Confirmed as a Haas driver for next season, something Nico Hulkenberg says was a mere formality, the German is “still dreaming” of a leap up the grid into a Red Bull seat come 2025.
Three years after being overlooked by the entire grid for a full-time drive, Hulkenberg returned to Formula 1 this season with Haas and he was quick to impress his team bosses.
Even though he only has nine points on the board, Guenther Steiner and Co. acknowledge that has more to do with the car and its tyre issues than it does with Hulkenberg’s pace.
Nico Hulkenberg ‘still dreaming’ of a Red Bull race seat
So much so, Haas on Thursday confirmed he’d continue with the team next season where he’ll once again partner Kevin Magnussen.
The German told Motorsport-Total.com that it was a mere formality and was “not a big surprise” as he’d known “for a few weeks and months” that he’d continue with the team.
“At the same time,” he added, “the contract was designed that way anyway and there were mechanisms in it that triggered the extension. That was foreseeable.”
Declaring he is “happy” with Haas despite the lack of returns, Hulkenberg added: “I’ve had a good time in this part of my career so far, I want more and I’m happy.”
But could that ‘more’ rest with Red Bull?
Linked to the Milton Keynes squad several times in the past few months in part due to his friendship with Max Verstappen, Red Bull motorsport advisor recently said the German would be one-half of a perfect teammate for the Dutchman.
“That’s the right thought,” he told Motorsport-Total.com when asked about Hulkenberg’s one-lap pace together with Sergio Perez’s tyre whisperer reputation. “The two would be the perfect qualifying and race combination.”
But while this has led to “some conversations with Helmut“, Hulkenberg admits those have never become serious, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still dreaming.
“One can wish for it, one can also dream of it,” he said of a Red Bull promotion. “But reality is what it is, and it’s not like that.”
Pressed as to whether he’s still hoping that maybe he could replace Perez in 2025, he replied: “I’m still dreaming. A lot and intensely.”
Having made his Formula 1 debut back in 2010 at the Bahrain Grand Prix but yet to win a race or even claim a podium, Hulkenberg holds two of Formula 1’s unwanted records of most points without a race win and most race starts without a podium.