Nico Hülkenberg has become established as the top-performing Haas driver in 2023, with team principal Guenther Steiner explaining the vital role he plays in the team.
There was plenty of debate when Hülkenberg was announced as Mick Schumacher’s replacement last year, with many criticising the American team’s decision.
Since then, the 35-year-old has led Haas in impressive fashion, showing little rustiness in the VF-23 despite his three-year absence from a full-time F1 seat.
On the opposite side of the garage, Kevin Magnussen is struggling to match the efforts of his new teammate.
Despite emerging as a revelation at the start of 2022, the Dane has failed to extract the same performance from the VF-23 as Hülkenberg.
Qualifying pace has been a particularly significant weakness for the 30-year-old this season.
Guenther Steiner has shown no issue in pointing out the discrepancy between his drivers, revealing that securing a new contract with ‘The Hulk’ will be the priority this summer.
When discussing Magnussen’s performances, he revealed that the #20 is often reliant on his teammate for car set-up:
“Nico is just better at the moment. Kevin has no problem admitting that either. Whether he’s happy with it? I don’t think so,” Steiner told Sport.de.
“He [Magnussen] has the potential. Nico is an asset to him.
“He used Nico’s set-up a couple of times this year. He’d say – I’m tired of trying, I’ll take Nico’s. Hopefully that will help me.
“Most of the time, it’s helped him.”
This analysis appears consistent with the most recent Grand Prix in Hungary, where Magnussen was a few steps behind his counterpart throughout the weekend.
Despite spending more time with Haas, there is clearly a lack of confidence and understanding in the American team’s 2023 challenger.
Although Magnussen has enjoyed strong outings this year, such as in Jeddah and Miami, his recent form leaves little to be desired.
Therefore, with the summer break fast-approaching, K-Mag will hope for a strong weekend in Belgium to improve his position in potential contract negotiations.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang