Haas make Hulkenberg contract priority, undecided on Magnussen

Jaden Diaz
19 Jul, 2023

Guenther Steiner reveals that Nico Hulkenberg is on the verge of agreeing to a contract extension with Haas over the summer. Kevin Magnussen, meanwhile, did not receive the same vote of confidence from the Haas boss.

Hulkenberg has been a revelation for the American team this season, optimising the potential of his VF-23 and securing vital points in 2023.

The 35-year-old’s stand-out results in Australia and the Austria Sprint have kept Haas in a respectable eighth place in the standings.

This is despite the obvious limitations of the 2023 Haas machine in race trim, which has often resulted in the German driver’s outstanding qualifying performances being wasted on Sunday.

Compared to his teammate Kevin Magnussen, ‘The Hulk’ has a comfortable 8-2 advantage in their qualifying head-to-head.

MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 02: Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23 during the Australian GP at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday April 02, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Simon Galloway / LAT Images)

To be clear, the Haas team principal has shown no indications that the Danish driver is at risk of losing his seat.

However, in his declarations to sport.de, Steiner made no secret that contract talks with Hulkenberg are more advanced:

“We’ve already talked about it [signing a contract with Hulkenberg]. But it’s nicer when you can do it in person than by phone or video call. It won’t take us long.”

“He’s [Gene Haas] coming there [to Spa]. Hopefully, we can announce it as soon as possible. We’re happy with him.”

Although Steiner was not overly critical of Magnussen, he was notably less confident about the #20 earning a new contract:

“We’ll have to see that. Logically, Kevin also knows that he has to catch up with Nico.

“Nico is just better at the moment. Kevin has no problem admitting that, either.”

Still, it seems that Magnussen is only a handful of strong performances from cementing his position with the team.

After all, there are few obvious alternatives in the market. Haas is also eager to avoid the contract uncertainty from last season.

“Hopefully, we can announce our driver pairing soon,” concluded Guenther Steiner.

Daniel Ricciardo’s return to AlphaTauri is evidence of the potential volatility of the F1 transfer market, so little can be safely assumed until an official announcement is made.

Haas is certainly more predictable than Red Bull with their driver decisions, so there is no need for any severe concern about Kevin Magnussen’s future on the grid.

With that said, a couple of strong race weekends in Hungary and Belgium can put the Dane in a more comfortable position for summer negotiations.

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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