Dec.20 (GMM) Nico Hulkenberg is not ruling out a switch to another Formula 1 team – perhaps the new Sauber-Audi project.
The German says he has enjoyed his return to the sport this year with the struggling American team Haas, which finished dead last in 2023.
But Hulkenberg, 36, has also been recently outspoken about progress at Haas – especially the late-season ‘B’-spec car upgrade which he says delivered “nothing” in terms of laptime.
“Sobering and alarming,” he has now told Auto Motor und Sport when asked how he felt when he realised that the team’s efforts to improve had backfired.
“We have to be honest with ourselves and admit that it doesn’t meet our needs if we put so much work into converting the car and then the end result is almost the same. It’s our job to do better next year,” he added.
Hulkenberg says it’s even “no consolation yet” that technical partner Ferrari managed to mainly solve its excessive tyre wear issues with 2023 upgrades – which Haas may now benefit from in terms of supplied parts for next year.
“I do not praise the day before the evening,” he said. “Let’s wait and see what happens next year.”
When asked to try to pin down why Haas struggled so much to improve in 2023, Hulkenberg answered: “There are several things that come into play: size of the team, budget, infrastructure, the quality of the people.”
As F1’s only active German racer, Hulkenberg has already been linked with Audi, who are progressively taking over the Sauber team ahead of a full works project for 2026.
Hulkenberg would be free to make that move for 2025, so when asked if that is a real option for him, he said: “Only time will tell.
“Let’s see how the season goes next year. Do we have a competitive car? Which people are recommended for which tasks?
“I can’t answer with confidence now. We probably have to position ourselves a little differently internally so that the same thing doesn’t happen again.”
As one of F1’s most experienced drivers, he understands that his services might now be in demand at teams that are much more competitive than Haas.
“Fernando (Alonso) and Lewis (Hamilton) are good ambassadors,” he smiled. “They show that you can still be fast when you’re older.”
When asked if he can imagine still be racing in F1 at the age of 42, like Alonso, he said: “I’m 36 now. As of today, yes.”