Formula 1 Racing

Hulkenberg called Haas about F1 return when ‘the desire to kick ass’ came back · RaceFans

Hulkenberg called Haas about F1 return when 'the desire to kick ass' came back · RaceFans

New Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg says he didn’t pursue a Formula 1 comeback until earlier this year when he felt the desire to return.

Hulkenberg, who is replacing Mick Schumacher at the team next year, last raced in F1 full-time in 2019 with Renault. Since then he has appeared on five occasions as a substitute at Racing Point and, earlier this year, Aston Martin.

Speaking to media including RaceFans at Yas Marina, Hulkenberg said he didn’t immediately pursue a return to F1 after losing his Renault drive three years ago.

“For two years I wasn’t too stressed about it,” he explained. “I was enjoying the life out of the driving seat. It’s much more relaxed, there’s other benefits.

“But then it creeped back, the desire to go back on the grid, to go racing, to kick ass, to be in the driving seat.”

Hulkenberg made his F1 debut with Williams in 2010, was without a race seat the following year, then returned in 2012. From then he raced continuously until he was dropped by Renault, racking up a total of 181 starts, after which he felt taking a break “was what I wanted [and] what I needed also.”

“And properly, obviously, I wasn’t a third driver or anything. So I really had the time to step back, disconnect from it properly. Anyway then it was Covid time so not much going on.

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“Once the season in 2020 started, obviously soon after that I came to Silverstone to replace Checo. But it was good for me to have time away to digest, to reflect on some things, change of perspective a little bit too.

“Then ’21, of course, sometimes it’s difficult when you have to watch, when you’re on the sidelines. But I think at that time it was still okay for me. This year then I think watching got a little harder, especially when you analyse and you see and you think you can do better in places, so it started the return project.”

Aside from his occasional F1 duties with Aston Martin, Hulkenberg tested an IndyCar last year but decided against seeking a move into the series. But after rumours began to emerge over Schumacher’s future at Haas, Hulkenberg called team principal Guenther Steiner.

He also made contact with other teams, but Hulkenberg said “all roads more or less led to here.” It wasn’t until the last few weeks that the deal for him to return to F1 finally came together.

“You never know until you really know, until it’s signed,” he said. “I think the last months it got more and more…

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