Nico Hulkenberg confirms Alfa Romeo interest earlier in 2023

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, leads Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43 during the Bahrain GP at Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday March 05, 2023 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Sutton / LAT Images)

Nico Hulkenberg has confirmed reports from earlier in 2023 about contract talks with Alfa Romeo. With most drivers on deals that expire next season, the German could feature heavily in F1 “silly season” rumours.

The 36-year-old has performed at an impressive level this year, securing vital points for Haas. Despite the VF-23’s lack of race pace, Hulkenberg’s efforts have been instrumental in preventing the US team from dropping to last in the standings.

As seen in previous years, Guenther Steiner’s team has lacked the resources to develop effectively mid-season. Unless there is some surprise investment in the near future, this is unlikely to change.

Considering Sauber/Alfa Romeo is set to collaborate with Audi in 2026, Hulkenberg has an opportunity to drive for a team with a higher ceiling.

Speaking to the media in Mexico, the German driver admitted the Swiss outfit expressed interest:

“There were discussions. I know Andreas Seidl very well from his Porsche and Formula 1 days. We get along well; that’s no secret,” he told Sky Germany.

“There were discussions. There was interest. At the end of the day, it didn’t happen.

“When Audi finally gets started in 2026, it’s still up in the air whether they will be a top team or not. They have to prove that and achieve it first.

“So there are still some question marks. I’m currently here [at Haas], at home. Everything else is up in the air.”

Although Audi’s official entry is scheduled for 2026, it seems reasonable they will influence Sauber’s driver selection sooner.

As an experienced German driver, Hulkenberg hits plenty of the criteria outlined by the manufacturer. With that said, as he outlined previously, there are still uncertainties surrounding their entry.

Next year is also a chance for Haas to prove they can still be competitive under these regulations. Although this is very much in doubt, the American team must show improvement if they are to avoid losing Hulkenberg’s services.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang