Feb.12 (GMM) Nico Hulkenberg is not hiding that he may be looking to move further up pitlane for 2025.
The German, who impressed on his 2023 return to Formula 1, ended last season openly criticising Haas’ failure to develop the car – resulting in the small American team finishing dead last.
The 36-year-old had even hinted that the team should be considering major changes – some weeks and months before boss Gunther Steiner was indeed ousted.
“It was unexpected,” Hulkenberg said. “Gene (Haas) called me between Christmas and New Year. I really didn’t expect or foresee it,” he told Sky Deutschland.
He says he will miss Steiner.
“He opened the door for me and that’s part of why I’m sorry he left, but it’s Gene Haas’ decision and we’ll just move on,” said Hulkenberg.
“We will miss him – he built it all. Haas is his concept, his business plan. His departure will leave holes that we will have to fill, but we must start rebuilding,” he added. “This is our first priority.”
Hulkenberg, however, counted himself into the post-Lewis Hamilton ‘silly season’ chaos last week by denying that he is already under contract to Haas for 2025.
When asked if a move to a more competitive team is a possibility, he answered: “It kind of depends on how well I can perform in the first five or six races. How good is the package? What can I do with it?
“I just hope to get the most out of 2024 and present myself as best as possible, then everything will fall into place.
“I am now in the 13th year of my career, I know I’m not in a top team, I don’t have a top car, but I do have the task of making the best of it. I want to try to help Haas move forward and do the best for myself and also recommend myself for other tasks, or perhaps for a further future here.”
As for the sudden ‘silly season’ chaos, Hulkenberg said: “A lot has already happened, but of course much more will happen over the next few months.”
Fascinatingly, Hulkenberg’s teammate Kevin Magnussen was also asked about Steiner’s departure and he appeared to fully back the decision to oust him.
“I love Guenther,” said the Dane. “I’ve had a great relationship with him since I’ve been at Haas. But it’s also exciting to see changes – real changes.
“I think it’s great that Ayao (Komatsu) is already addressing some of the elephants in the room by emphasising that our development trajectory hadn’t been good. It’s certainly a very exciting time for us at Haas.”
Steiner was a highly popular figure, in part due to his personality shining so brightly in the Netflix series, but team title sponsor Moneygram’s marketing boss Greg Hall tipped Haas to cope with his exit.
“If you’re not producing results, owners tend to make changes,” he said. “I think most people can understand this.”