Nico Hulkenberg opens up on challenging Haas switch

Nico Hulkenberg drove his Haas for the first time in a post-season test in Abu Dhabi.

Mick Schumacher did not do enough to save his seat during the final run in of the 2022 season, and will be replaced as Kevin Magnussen’s teammate for next year by Nico Hulkenberg.

The 35-year-old German has been keeping himself in the Formula 1 picture since his departure from Renault in 2019 by serving as reserve driver, most recently for Aston Martin.

Hulkenberg did not have to wait long to drive for his new team, with Haas giving him the opportunity to take part in a test with the team just days after Schumacher ended his Haas career in Abu Dhabi.

The German has said that he is happy overall with how the day went, noting that setbacks were expected as he gets to grips with a new car.

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“I think I adapted pretty quickly and felt comfortable soon,” he said.

“Yeah, there is [the fact that] it feels like a different car – it starts already when they crank the engine and the engine comes alive and the kind of vibration from the power unit, every power unit if different.

“But no, I think I got used to that pretty quickly.”

Questions were asked of Haas’ decision to replace an up and coming driver with an older one, who has not had a race seat for a number of seasons now, with some fans suggesting that the team will only get a couple of years of good pace out of Hulkenberg before he calls it a day.

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The 35-year-old has said that he felt the effects of his time away from the sport during his test run with his new team, but has said that he expected no different and is confident of overcoming the lack of sharpness that comes with the time away from the grid.

“It was hard, it was tough, I was feeling some human degradation towards the end of the day too. But that was to be expected,” he explained.

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“Obviously it’s good, it does remind you, it does show you again the intensity these cars have and then you add the race to it, the competition, and it’s another story again.

“But I have a plan and I know what I have to do.”

Hulkenberg took part in the first two races of last season, standing in for the ill Sebastian Vettel, so the German will not be too short of practice heading into Bahrain and Saudi Arabia when the 2023 season kicks off.