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Haas confirms Nico Hulkenberg to replace Mick Schumacher in ’23

Sportsnaut
Nov 2, 2019; Austin, TX, USA; Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg of Germany during qualifying for the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Haas confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will replace Mick Schumacher in next year’s driver lineup.

Hulkenberg, 35, will return to Formula 1 full-time for the first time since being dropped by Renault in 2019. He will team with Kevin Magnussen to give Haas the veteran lineup it had long been rumored to be aiming for.

Schumacher, 23, joined Haas in 2021 and has scored points in two races this season for the back-of-the-field team. However, his time with the team has been marked by several costly accidents.

“As I always said it was not an easy decision what is best to do for the team,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said in a statement. “In the summer when we didn’t have a decision there was no decision. The contract was only signed yesterday, for example. We wanted to see what to do best and give Mick as much time as possible that we can make the best decision possible.”

Hulkenberg has competed in four F1 races as a substitute driver the past two years. After making his F1 debut with Williams in 2010, he has also raced for Force India, Sauber, Racing Point and Aston Martin.

Steiner said the change was made in an effort to “go forward again” as Haas seeks to become an “upper midfield” team in the next two years.

“(We want) to fight in the midfield properly, because this year we were fighting, we were out, we were fighting again – it’s been a little bit up and down and a rollercoaster this year,” Steiner told reporters Thursday.

“We need a bit of stability next year. We made a big step this year from where we were the last two years, but we want to continue to get better and better.

“That is the aim, because the other teams obviously want to do the same.”

Schumacher joined Haas in 2021 as part of an all-rookie team along with Russian Nikita Mazepin, who was dropped earlier this following his country’s invasion of Ukraine. Mazepin was replaced by previous Haas driver Magnussen, who claimed the team’s first F1 pole at last week’s Brazilian Grand Prix and has scored 25 points this year.

Meanwhile, the future remains uncertain for Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion legend Michael Schumacher.

All 20 seats on the F1 grid for 2023 are accounted for. Mick Schumacher has been part of Ferrari’s academy since 2019 but its not expected to remain with the Italian outfit beyond this year.

“I don’t want to hide the fact I am very disappointed about the decision not to renew our contract, he wrote in an Instagram post. “Nevertheless I would like to thank Haas and Ferrari for giving me this opportunity.

“Those years together have helped me to mature both technically and personally. And especially when things got difficult, I realized how much I love this sport. It was at times bumpy but I steadily improved, learned a lot and now know for sure that I deserve a place in Formula 1. The subject is anything but closed for me. Setbacks only make you stronger.

“My fire burns for Formula 1 and I will fight hard to return to the starting grid.”

One option for Schumacher could be joining a different team as a reserve, with Mercedes rumoured to be a potential landing spot for the former F2 champion.

–Field Level Media