‘Poor reflection’: Ex-Red Bull driver unhappy with Haas signing Nico Hulkenberg

After years serving as a reserve driver, Nico Hulkenberg will be returning to the F1 grid with Haas in 2023.

Nico Hulkenberg will be given another shot at Formula 1 racing next year, as Haas have chosen the 35-year-old to replace Mick Schumacher, of whom they have grown tired of.

Schumacher has reportedly cost the team over €3,000,000 last season as a result of his high-profile crashes in Saudi Arabia and Monaco, causing team principal Guenther Steiner to admit that he is done with rookies.

Former F1 driver Mark Webber has joked that Hulkenberg has no room for mistakes next season, with Steiner being very harsh on young Schumacher for his mistakes.

“Nico can’t crash that car at all, he’s going to be perfect next year,” laughed the Australian.

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“I know he’s losing some weight right now as we speak. He’s on that treadmill shaving that [fat] off, so good luck to him.”

While Webber has wished Hulkenberg well in his Formula 1 ventures, he was expressed his concern at how Haas’ decision to appoint a 35-year-old could affect the younger generation of Formula 1 drivers.

The 2023 grid will have three rookies on the grid in the form of Nyck de Vries, Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri, but Webber is still concerned about how Hulkenberg’s appointment reflects on the younger generation.

“I’m a little bit surprised to be honest,” he said when asked about Schumacher’s replacement.

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“I thought that it’s a bit of a poor reflection on the talent underneath [F1] at the moment. I think there’s not enough guys that they can lean on to move up and replace Mick.

“We know Guenther is over rookies. He wants the other end of the scale and has gone for a veteran.”

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Haas’s decision can be understood however when looking back to the 2021 season, when the American team decided to go for a double-rookie line-up of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

Both drivers spent the year at the back of the grid, finishing last in the championships, while the team had to fork out for repairs to their cars all too often after Mazepin especially has a tendency to spin out or crash the car.

The team will be hoping that when Hulkenberg is paired with Kevin Magnussen, they will have a stable and experienced driver pairing that can help Haas climb the leader boards and become an establish midfield team.