Hülkenberg back in F1 thanks to Aston Martin stint says the returning German; Nico Hülkenberg believes that replacing Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of the Aston Martin for two races at the start of the 2022 season was a defining moment for his return to Formula One.
Returning to Formula 1 this year with the Haas team after three seasons on the sidelines, Germany’s Nico Hülkenberg went through various stages before finally being certain he wanted to return to Formula 1 championship in 2022.
After being let go by the Renault team at the end of 2019, Hülkenberg has been able to enjoy life with his family a little more in the months since his last Formula 1 race, also well helped by the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic which brought much of the world to a standstill for several months.
Desired a return to F1
Speaking about whether or not he wanted to return to Formula One during this long break, the German explained: “Yes, I had a bit of a different feeling…it was a bit in waves. Some weeks it was more, some weeks it was less,” Hülkenberg said in an interview with the championship website.
“At the beginning in 2020 I needed some time, so at that time I was pretty relaxed. Then all of a sudden in 2021 there were weeks where it was harder for me to sit back and watch the drivers come out of the garage.”
“In 2022, so let’s say twelve months ago more or less, ten months ago in fact, that feeling of wanting to be behind the wheel again came back very strongly. Then I had a clear intention, and it became clear that I wanted to pursue and have the opportunity to have a racing seat again.”
Thanks to Aston Martin to get me back to F1
Nico Hülkenberg – who drove the Aston Martin in two races as a replacement for Sebastian Vettel at the start of the 2022 season – believes that this freelance drive has certainly opened more doors for him.
“I think it’s been key in opening doors for me to sit here now. I doubt very much that without those two races at the beginning of last year I would have got the seat,” said the German.
“I think it put me back on the table with Guenther [the Haas manager] and with the team, they must have thought: ‘OK, this guy still knows where the accelerator pedal is!”
“Another example is Nyck de Vries. Without his performance at Monza, without that opportunity last year [he replaced Alex Albon at Williams for the Italian GP], I’m not sure he would have had a seat [at AlphaTauri for 2023]. So I think that was extremely important.”
Now a regular driver at Haas, Nico Hülkenberg begins another chapter in his career this season at a smaller team at the age of 35.