35-year-old driver tipped to replace Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen’s wingman

Tensions are believed to be growing between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, potentially setting course for an explosion on track as the two fight for the world title.

Nico Hulkenberg’s return at Haas has got tongues wagging, as he performs better than expected with the car, outshining his teammate Kevin Magnussen in every race of the season so far. 

Hulkenberg, who holds the unfortunate record of most F1 starts without a podium, came close to raising the third place trophy at Australia.

Getting up to P4 at one point, Hulkenberg was almost elevated to a podium due to a penalty received by Carlos Sainz on the last lap.

Unfortunately, a return to an early starting order saw him only finish in P7 – a strong finish for Haas, as they fight to rise up the rankings in the Constructors’ race.

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This impressive start to the season for Hulkenberg after a three-year break from Formula 1, has got some suggesting that he could even be the perfect teammate for Max Verstappen at Red Bull.

Speaking on his YouTube channel, former Williams and Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor has laid out his thoughts on the return of the 35-year-old driver to the grid and explored where his future might lay.

“Nico Hulkenberg, I thought, drove superbly. Absolutely superbly,” Windsor said.  

“He stopped right at the end but what a drive. We know Kevin Magnussen is pretty good but he just overshadowed him all day and Nico was outstanding.

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“I mean, what would Nico do in the second Red Bull as a wingman for Max Verstappen?  

“If you talk about the perfect [number two] driver, you’ve got to add him to the list with Valtteri Bottas, potentially Carlos Sainz, certainly Sergio Perez,” Windsor added.

Hulkenberg was, at one point, reportedly considered for the Red Bull seat alongside Verstappen when the team was weighing its future with Alex Albon.

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However, an apparent reluctance emerged from the team over signing someone who hadn’t been a part of Red Bull’s sister team.  

Talk of a potential new teammate for Verstappen comes as a rift is believe to be emerging between himself and Sergio Perez, as the two are in a close battle for the Drivers’ Championship.

The rivalry between Verstappen and Perez was on show at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix when the Dutchman snatched the fastest lap point from the Mexican driver, seemingly against team orders.