Guenther Steiner says he played mind games with Nico Hulkenberg over 2023 seat

Nico Hulkenberg hasn't completed a full season of F1 since 2019, where he raced for Renault alongside Daniel Ricciardo.

Ahead of this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, Haas boss Guenther Steiner has been an extremely busy person.

On Wednesday it was finally confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg would be partnering Kevin Magnussen at the American side in 2023, meaning fan favourite Mick Schumacher would be axed from the side.

It has been reported for a while that Schumacher was set to be dropped; however, the 23-year-old kept a fragment of hope that he would end up being retained by the side and offered a contract extension.

Incredibly, it’s been revealed that Steiner delayed the announcement “on purpose”, to see how much Hulkenberg really wanted to race for the side.

READ: Mattia Binotto makes ‘lottery’ claim as he defends Ferrari blunder

This has arguably played a massive factor in why Schumacher is left searching for a reserve role for next season, as Haas took far too long in making their decision.

Whilst the Americans have got the driver they wanted, there does appear to be a real sense of disregard for the son of Michael Schumacher, who it seems, has been treated perhaps unfairly.

Steiner explained that he’s spoken to Hulkenberg for a “pretty long time” about the seat and that delaying the announcement was a “psychology thing”.

“I spoke to [Hulkenberg] for a pretty long time, then maybe not speaking, just seeing how he reacted,” he said to The Race

Article continues below

“With some people, when you want something, you get high and then you lose interest. It’s a psychology thing.

“But he always kept on pushing, always asking. I left that seat on purpose there to see. But he always came back, ‘What is happening? What is happening?’. I don’t think he believed that this could happen until a few days ago. I think he didn’t believe it’s just going to happen.

“I just feel like he wants it. Over speaking with him, he really wants it. Then the next thing is to see for how long you want it, because it’s one of these things, you want it and then you realise how hard it actually is, and think, ‘Oh, why did I do this?’. But I don’t think he gets there.”

Some have questioned if Hulkenberg deserves to return to F1, given his age and time away from a full-time seat.

Hulkenberg is currently 35 years old and has been Aston Martin’s reserve driver the last two years, with him being Racing Point’s prior to that.

The German’s age doesn’t bother Steiner, who is convinced that Hulkenberg is up to the challenge.

READ: Will Buxton calls for end to abuse after Max Verstappen reveals his family were targeted

“You don’t lose your talent in years,” he added.

“Obviously with age you get slower because everything slows down but I think as long as you keep fit – and he is fit – I think you’re going to be okay.

“So I’m not worried about that. It’s more of a mental thing for me – ‘Do I want to do this or not?’. Did he want it? Oh yeah, Jesus Christ. He’s chasing me a lot. They played the game, him and his lawyer! It’s one of the answers you will never be 100% sure until you [test it]. You just need to try to do as much as possible so you’re sure that it will happen.”