F1: Nico Hulkenberg joins Haas for 2023 to set the F1 Grid

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 18: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Aston Martin during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 18, 2022 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images)

Nico Hulkenberg will make a full-time racing return to Formula One with the Haas F1 Team in 2023, replacing fellow German Mick Schumacher.

On Thursday, Haas announced that Nico Hulkenberg will race alongside Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen in 2023 after confirming that Schumacher will not be retained for next season. The German driver will return to F1 on a full-time basis for the first since 2019 when he drove for Renault. Hulkenberg will start working with the US-based team on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi driving this year’s car as part of the Pirelli test, with reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi driving the team’s other car.

Haas boss Guenther Steiner said:

“I’m naturally very pleased to be welcoming Nico Hulkenberg back to a full-time racing role in Formula 1. The experience and knowledge base Nico brings to the team is clear to see – with nearly 200 career starts in Formula 1 – and a reputation as being a great qualifier and a solid, reliable racer. These are attributes, which when you pair them together with Kevin Magnussen’s experience, gives us a very credible and well-seasoned driver line-up which we believe will help push the team onwards up the grid. That’s obviously the goal and it was that ambition that has prompted Nico’s return to Formula 1 – he shares our vision and can be a key player, together with the rest of the team, in building on the foundations we’ve laid this year with our return to the points battle.”

Nico Hulkenberg added:

“I’m very happy to move into a full-time race seat with Haas F1 Team in 2023. I feel like I never really left Formula 1. I’m excited to have the opportunity to do what I love the most again and want to thank Gene Haas and Günther Steiner for their trust. We have work ahead of us to be able to compete with all the other teams in the midfield, and I cannot wait to join that battle again.”

Hulkenberg’s Path So Far:

Throughout his F1 career, Hulkenberg has raced for Williams, Force India, Sauber, and Renault, and made substitute appearances for the Racing Point/Aston Martin team for the last two seasons. The 35-year-old has 181 Grand Prix participations, 521 championship points, and one incredible pole position in his rookie season with Williams at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, which was the team’s first pole in five years. 2018 marks the German’s best season after finishing seventh in the Driver’s Championship with six top-six finishes.

Mick Schumacher: What’s Next?

Embed from Getty Images

Schumacher joined Haas in 2021 after winning the Formula 2 championship the previous year. He has 42 Grand Prix appearances and 12 championship points so far in his two seasons. The German’s performance was not convincing enough for the team to renew his contract due to his struggles and a run of heavy crashes that “cost a fortune” according to team owner Gene Haas.

Following the announcement, Schumacher expressed his disappointment with the team’s decision, saying:

“I don’t want to hide the fact that I am very disappointed about the decision not to renew our contract. Nevertheless, I would like to thank both Haas and Ferrari for giving me this opportunity. Those years together have helped me mature both technically and personally. And especially when things got difficult, I realised how much I love this sport. It was at times bumpy but I steadily improved, learned a lot and now know for sure that I deserve a place in Formula 1. The subject is anything but closed for me. Setbacks only make you stronger. My fire burns for Formula 1 and I will fight hard to return to the starting grid.”

There is a very slight hope for the 23-year-old to race in F1 next season if American Logan Sargeant fails to score enough points in the F2 finale in Abu Dhabi this weekend to secure Williams’ second seat. Otherwise, he has a good chance of becoming a reserve driver at Mercedes, as team boss Toto Wolff stated a few days ago that he is open to talks with Schumacher over a reserve drive. Wolff said “the Schumacher family belongs to Mercedes” and that they “appreciate Mick very much.”

Will Mick take Williams’ second seat away from Sargeant? Or will Toto Wolff bring the Schumacher name back to Mercedes? We could find out this weekend.

The Current Formula 1 Grid for 2023:

Red Bull Max Verstappen Sergio Perez
Ferrari Charles Leclerc Carlos Sainz
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton George Russell
Alpine Pierre Gasly Esteban Ocon
McLaren Lando Norris Oscar Piastri
Alfa Romeo Valtteri Bottas Zhou Guanyu
Haas Kevin Magnussen Nico Hulkenberg
Aston Martin Lance Stroll Fernando Alonso
AlphaTauri Yuki Tsunoda Nyck de Vries
Williams Alex Albon Logan Sargeant*

*Logan Sargeant needs to finish 6th or higher in the F2 Championship to secure his Super License for next season.