Why Haas signed Nico Hulkenberg for 2023While Schumacher was showing some promise in 2022, there were some major problems. Chief of which were the accidents he was involved in. Team boss Guenther Steiner claimed that Schumacher cost the team some $2 million at least in repair bills during 2022. The biggest of those accidents were in Saudi Arabia and Monaco, the former causing Schumacher to miss the Grand Prix itself. Haas felt they needed someone who was a safer pair of hands than Schumacher, like Magnussen, who was rarely involved in major accidents. This was despite Schumacher showing good turns of speed.
Hulkenberg was signed up in the second half of 2022, and while many were upset at his return, others were happy to see him back. His axing from the Renault lineup in 2019 always felt unnecessary, even if Esteban Ocon, his replacement, was worthy of an F1 seat. Hulkenberg had put in stunning performances at Racing Point as a COVID stand-in at Silverstone and the Nurburgring during 2020. And his stand-ins for Sebastian Vettel at the start of 2022 were respectable, given he had no pre-season testing in the Aston Martin car. Clearly, 'The Hulk' still had what it took to perform in F1. And he is now showing it in spades.
Hulkenberg's 2023 F1 season in detail
Magnussen, meanwhile, had a lackluster weekend again. He only managed 14th in qualifying before crashing out of the Grand Prix late on in a bizarre incident. Despite being out of F1 full-time for three seasons, Hulkenberg was showing he was still race sharp. His stand-ins for Racing Point and Aston Martin are clearly enough to keep him in that racing frame of mind. Magnussen will surely rectify the problems that he is facing right now. But his performances so far have been incredibly underwhelming compared to what Hulkenberg was able to put in.
What else can we expect from Hulkenberg?If Hulkenberg keeps up these performances, he will likely remain at Haas for a while. He is the safe pair of hands the team has always needed, and he is already delivering on the points promise. Once Magnussen is on the money again, Haas will have one of the strongest driver lineups in F1's midfield. What happens next, though, depends on how strong the development curve is for Haas with their 2023 car. The team wasn't able to keep up with many of its rivals for 2022, so that must change this year.
The feeling is that 2022 was more of a rebuilding year after 2021, and that 2023 is more "normal" for Haas, according to Guenther Steiner. So hopefully, we will see Haas keep pace as the year goes on.