Hulkenberg advised to seek Haas exit

Tue, 25 July 2023, 09:00

Jul.25 (GMM) Haas engineers and designers have a “responsibility” to improve a fundamental flaw with the 2023 car.

That is the forthright claim of Nico Hulkenberg, who appears to be heading for a certain contract extension after impressing on his return to Formula 1 this year.

In contrast, the established incumbent Kevin Magnussen is struggling.

“Nico is clearly able to get a lot more out of it in one lap,” the Dane admits. “I’m pretty far behind him on a single lap.

“In the race it’s closer but the strengths of my driving style are working against me at the moment with the limitations of the car. The car has gotten better but it has gotten worse for my style.

“And the problem seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I’ve never experienced something like it before but I am sure we can fix it,” Magnussen added.

It’s more of a stark problem for Hulkenberg, though, because he is typically qualifying very well on a Saturday and then sinking through the field with enormous tyre wear in the race.

“It’s very frustrating as a driver, but you do what you can,” said the German. “As soon as we start pushing, the car starts to slide and we destroy the tyres.”

Last year, team boss Gunther Steiner was highly critical of Hulkenberg’s predecessor Mick Schumacher. But now, it’s Hulkenberg turning the spotlight on the small American team.

“The engineers and aerodynamicists have a duty to find and do something,” the 35-year-old told Sky Deutschland.

“We need a story like McLaren. In Saudi they were still behind us and then they completely turned it around. They actually brought a B car which has to be our role model.”

For former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, a regular Haas critic following the demise of his nephew Mick, he agrees with Hulkenberg that the onus is now on the team.

“It would be good if the team boss also made the same demands he makes on others on himself and on the team,” said the German.

“The drivers, or especially one driver, do great in qualifying but the car just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

“They can’t just blame everything on being a small team. You’re still in Formula 1 and you still want to improve. It’s clear that the car was good last year and nothing has happened since then.”

Steiner responded: “Many other teams are picking up the pace. We can’t at the moment but we’re working on it.”

Schumacher, meanwhile, hailed Hulkenberg for his “measured and purposeful” criticism of Haas, which he thinks is “absolutely justified”.

“That is part of the game,” the former F1 driver added.

As for Hulkenberg and his looming contract extension, Schumacher thinks his countryman should at least be looking around at his alternatives.

“It’s debatable how many other options there are for him, but probably any option would be better for him than Haas. You get the impression from the outside that there is more potential in the other teams,” he said.

“A lot of money is invested at Williams, for example, and there is new momentum there, but also at Alpha Tauri. At Haas, one has the impression that it’s at a standstill.

“But finding a new cockpit is not easy for Nico. He has a bit of a reputation for being a perfect qualifier who can’t then exploit his potential in the race. That’s why he wants a good race car so much.

“I think he’s struggling a bit with the fact that he doesn’t have the opportunity to prove it,” Schumacher added.

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