Rumours sparked as Nico Hulkenberg seen visiting Red Bull hospitality

Jamie Woodhouse
Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) pose after qualifying in the top three for the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) pose after qualifying in the top three for the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

F1 reporter Natalie Pinkham spotted Nico Hulkenberg paying Red Bull a visit at Spa-Francorchamps, following recent comments made by Helmut Marko.

Hulkenberg returned to the grid for F1 2023 with Haas, where the German racer has impressed in his first full-time gig since his last season with Renault in 2019.

While tyre management issues have hamstrung Haas on race days, Hulkenberg has delivered several standout qualifying performances, securing P2 on the grid in Canada, while he has scored nine points to team-mate Kevin Magnussen’s two.

Nico Hulkenberg pays Red Bull a visit

It was ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix that Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko name-dropped Hulkenberg as the ideal team-mate to their dominant Championship leader Max Verstappen on a Saturday, with his current team-mate Sergio Perez perfect for Sunday’s.

“That’s the right thought,” he told when asked about Hulkenberg’s one-lap pace together with Perez’s tyre whisperer reputation.

“The two would be the perfect qualifying and race combination.”

And with Hulkenberg and Verstappen known to get on well, could Hulkenberg actually be on Red Bull’s radar as Perez struggles to contend with the performance level which Verstappen is achieving in the RB19?

“It interests me that Nico Hulkenberg just walked past us to go into Red Bull,” said Pinkham on the F1 Nation podcast. “What’s going on there?” recommends

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Well-respected reporter Erik van Haren, who was also appearing on the podcast, would cast doubt on the thought that Hulkenberg was at Red Bull for anything related to driving for the team.

Van Haren noted that Hulkenberg was carrying a bag and had flown in for the Belgian GP with Verstappen on his private jet, suggesting that then could well be why the Haas driver headed for Red Bull hospitality.

“I think he has a very good connection with the Verstappen camp, and I think Max is here with his private jet and Nico lives in Monaco, maybe that’s the reason he is here,” Van Haren suggested.

“Because he has his bag already with him and he has changed his clothes, so I think that’s the reason but we can check that.

“But Nico and Max they get well along together, I think if they will not be team-mates in Formula 1, you don’t have to be surprised if maybe in a few years’ time they are going to 24 hours of Le Mans together.”

Verstappen is now well on his way to a third straight World Championship, his lead over nearest rival, team-mate Perez standing at 125 points.

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