Nico Hulkenberg has made an impressive return to Formula 1 this season, silencing the generally sceptical narrative surrounding him. With that said, the 35-year-old had to work diligently to convince Haas he was deserving of a contract.
Guenther Steiner kept the F1 world in suspense for the majority of last season regarding driver selection.
The American outfit was in no shortage of options, according to Steiner, who insisted that several drivers would be evaluated.
Ultimately, the decision was made to sign Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg alongside the Danish driver.
Although the German’s record of securing consistent results in the midfield is well-established, Hulkenberg admitted on the ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast that Haas still needed convincing:
“I put pressure on. Of course, I knew what was at stake. It was my only chance. My last straw, if you will,” motorsport-total.com quotes him as saying.
“That’s why I really did and showed him how interested I was, that I really wanted to come back.
“I showed him what I had achieved and what I could achieve.”
He also noted that “information and presentations” were frequently sent to the Haas team principal.
Hulkenberg attributes his F1 comeback – at least partially – to the form he demonstrated in 2020 and 2022.
He didn’t have a full-time contract in either of these years, but his “super-sub” performances in both seasons were applauded throughout the paddock.
Considering that he secured these impressive results with limited practice time, there were few doubts about his adaptability going into the start of the year:
“They [subtitute appearances] gave me the security that although things had changed, I still had it.
“These races showed me that I myself was still competitive with very little practice.”
Most of the criticisms of Hulkenberg were linked to his F1 podium record, but in a team largely incapable of securing them, this critique has become increasingly irrelevant.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang