Nico Hulkenberg happy his Haas ‘hasn’t exploded yet’

2023 will be Nico Hulkenberg's first full season in Formula 1 since 2019, with the German having been a reserve driver for the last three years.

The returning Nico Hulkenberg has been very pleased with how his pre-season has been going at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the 35-year-old itching to get the first round of the year underway.

Hulkenberg has completed plenty of laps for Haas in Bahrain this week, with the German having worked tirelessly on making sure he’s as prepared as possible to make his full-time return to the sport.

The new Haas driver hasn’t completed a full campaign at the pinnacle of motorsport since 2019, where he raced for Renault alongside Daniel Ricciardo.

His last actual race in the sport, though, was last season’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix right at the start of the year, meaning there has been plenty of learning for the experienced driver to do.

READ: Carlos Sainz avoids scary collision with other drivers in bizarre incident

Comically, Hulkenberg revealed that he’s already pressed the “wrong buttons” on his Haas steering wheel, with it, of course, being different to what he was used to in his reserve role at Aston Martin.

Auto Motor und Sport (AMuS) journalist Tobi Grüner revealed that he “Asked Nico Hulkenberg, whether he already knows his new Haas steering wheel inside out.

“He admitted that he pushed the wrong buttons a few times. But luckily the car hasn’t exploded yet.”

Hulkenberg’s return to the sport truly shows that a return is always possible in F1, with the driver potentially having thought his chances of returning were slim given his age.

Article continues below

He’s looked solid in pre-season and has been “really tingling” since he travelled to the circuit, with it suddenly having sunk in that after three seasons away, he’s finally back in the sport as a full-time driver.

“It was just great when I left the pit lane and felt that feeling again,” Hulkenberg told AMuS.

“That came up on the journey here. When I packed my suitcase at home and then sat on the plane, reality really kicked in. But that was a great feeling. It’s really tingling then. But it has always been tingling. It’s such an intense moment. But you also live for it. It’s such a rush that’s just hard to describe.”

Given that he’s been away from the sport at least as a first-team driver, the German hasn’t had to train at such an intense level for a little while, with the lack of pre-season testing also likely not being ideal.

READ: ‘That saved my life’: Romain Grosjean’s destroyed Haas to go on display

Interestingly, Hulkenberg isn’t actually too concerned at the lack of testing, with the driver admitting he’s “more the racing guy and less the testing guy”.

“I hope it’s only a few weekends before I can do my best,” Hulkenberg added.

“Unfortunately, you never know exactly how long it will take. I’m more the racing guy and less the testing guy. That’s why a day and a half is okay for me.”