Nico Hülkenberg will replace Mick Schumacher at Haas in 2023. This makes the 35-year-old the only German regular driver in the field. The Formula 1 veteran explains in an RTL/ntv interview why that hardly matters to him, and why he had no contact with Mick Schumacher before and after the Haas decision. Hülkenberg goes as far as to say, Schumacher simply wasn’t good enough in a damning statement about his fellow German F1 driver.
The time as the paddock’s ever ready ‘firefighter’ is over. Since the end of 2019, when the contract with Renault ended, Nico Hülkenberg has been a sought-after “jump in driver”, but no longer a regular driver. Fireman Nico for Racing Point, then Aston Martin and Mercedes.
And the all-rounder delivered, jumping in spontaneously several times into a car he hardly knew, sometimes on tracks he had never driven before, like in Saudi Arabia in 2022. In 2020, in his actual role as an RTL pundit, he received a call over coffee to please replace Lance Stroll, who had fallen ill.
Hülkenberg, completely in his element, jumped first into his private Porsche to practice the track for a few laps, then into the Racing Point F1 car. Almost as if he had never been away.
Hülkenberg slams Schumacher
Hülkenberg maintained contact with Günther Steiner and then the polarising Haas team boss decided at the end of the year to switch to his second cockpit. Hülkenberg instead of Schumacher. Experience instead of youth.
The change had been foreshadowed the weeks before, but nevertheless caused a bang in Germany. Schumacher scored too few points in Haas’ opinion, had caused high costs with a couple of crashes. “We had to carry Mick,” Steiner said afterwards.
Hülkenberg was warming up in the background, keeping fit, but he did not have a direct exchange with Schumi jr during this time, as he revealed in the RTL/ntv interview. “We haven’t talked to each other since then. We never really exchanged thoughts before that either,” says Hülkenberg.
Of course we chat sometimes at the drivers’ parade because we speak the same language, Hulk explains further. “Mick is also a different generation. We never had a real relationship, something like he has with Sebastian Vettel.”
Hülkenberg then slams his fellow German by dryly saying that the youngster was not good enough, he was on his way out anyway.
“The story is now what it is. If it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else.” says Hülkenberg.
Hülkenberg on Steiner: “He says what he thinks”.
“I want to convince, do a good job, continue to grow with Haas and bring the team forward. I have to do that together with Kevin in one wash as a team.” After all, while the relationship between Steiner and Schumacher never really seemed rosy, Hülkenberg believes he will fit in well with the South Tyrolean.
Steiner, he says, is a “straight guy”. In other words, “he says what he thinks.”