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Nico Hulkenberg expected to join new team in 2025

Nico Hulkenberg is widely expected to sign a contract with a new team for the 2025 season.

After completing his first season with Haas, Nico Hulkenberg is a driver in demand. The 36-year-old performed at a high level in 2023, scoring nine of the team’s twelve points from that campaign. Frequent Q3 appearances – including a brilliant P2 qualifying in Canada – were highlights in a season blighted by the VF-23’s poor race pace. However, Ayao Komatsu has ensured that Haas is competitive in race trim with this year’s car. This has allowed Hulkenberg to fight for points consistently in 2024 so far, although it is unlikely to change the German driver’s decision for the future.

Haas is often a team whose drivers have been scrutinised. There were once regular conversations about whether Grosjean and Magnussen (later Schumacher and Mazepin) were performing at the necessary level. This had a tendency to detract from the team’s poor mid-season development and operational limitations. However, this narrative turned on its head when Hulkenberg joined the team.

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Vocal criticism of limited development

As a seasoned veteran, he did not experience the same pitfalls as previous Haas drivers. Moreover, his performances meant that Haas would be unwise to make any criticisms. After all, Hulkenberg gave the American team no reason to complain. In this context, the 36-year-old felt secure enough to voice some quite sharp criticisms towards the team.

When Haas was the only team without a track-specific rear wing in Monza, the German driver made his frustrations known. Similarly, after a season characterised by regression, he made clear after the season finale in Abu Dhabi that improvements were necessary.

Sauber / Audi want Nico Hulkenberg

In the background of a relatively quiet transfer market last year, Nico Hulkenberg was in talks with Sauber. The Swiss outfit wanted to sign him before this season, but the US team were able to exercise their option on his contract to keep him in the team for 2024. However, this mechanism will not be an obstacle this season.

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Unless there is a dramatic and unforeseen complication, Hulkenberg is expected to race with Audi-owned Sauber in 2025. This will give him a season to integrate himself into the team before the German manufacturer debuts its engines in Formula 1.

The Le Mans winner has long been a target of Audi’s. Despite their failure to get him away from Haas last season, they remain enthusiastic about securing his services. It is understood that an agreement is wanted on both sides, with the signing of a contract largely seen as a formality. Audi has already pushed other drivers to reach a decision as soon as possible. In this context, it is plausible things are moving quite speedily behind the scenes.

In all likelihood, this move will open up a driver slot at Haas, which already has a young driver’s name on it. Specifically, Ayao Komatsu is almost certainly ready to introduce Oliver Bearman to his team. With six free practice sessions scheduled, the British driver will have chances to get plenty of F1 mileage under his belt.


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