Hulkenberg surprises team boss: 'Expected form to come a little bit later'
Hulkenberg catches Steiner off-guard

Hulkenberg surprises team boss: 'Expected form to come a little bit later'

23 May - 16:30 Last update: 23:25

Guenther Steiner showed Mick Schumacher the door at Haas F1 last year after a challenging season. A successor was found in Nico Hulkenberg and the team boss did not expect the 35-year-old driver to do so well immediately. Indeed, the German had only been a reserve driver in Formula 1 in recent years.

After 2019, there was no place for Hulkenberg at Renault. In 2020 and 2022, he did still drive a total of four GPs as a substitute at Racing Point and later Aston Martin, and in those appearances he impressed. It made Steiner decide to give Hulkenberg another chance in the king class of motorsport. The team boss was not disappointed.

"For Nico, coming back after three years as a part-time driver, he came back pretty strong. I expected him to be strong but I expected that form to come a little bit later. So I was quite surprised myself, and in the beginning, he was just strong," a satisfied Steiner told the F1 Nation podcast. "So I don't know, have he reached the peak or is there more coming? I mean, I would be happy if there is more coming, obviously but I think he's doing a good job."

Starting problems for Magnussen

Hulkenberg was fast from the first moment in the VF23, but the same was not true for teammate Kevin Magnussen. The Danish driver outperformed Mick Schumacher last season, but he had a lot more trouble with Hulkenberg. In both qualifying and racing, his peer often had the upper hand. Meanwhile, Magnussen seems to be better around the Haas car, according to Steiner.

"At the beginning of the year, he was a little bit struggling with his balance of the car. He couldn't get the feel for it. But I spoke with him I think it was end of last week and he said he was in a very good place in Miami with the car. He's very happy. So I think he knows now where to start the weekend setup-wise and move on from there."