Steiner: Hulkenberg “clearly deserves” new contract on current form

Jaden Diaz
27 Apr, 2023

Guenther Steiner has given an assessment of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen’s contractual situation after the first three rounds of 2023.

The Haas team principal has spoken in glowing terms about Hulkenberg, with the 35-year-old already securing a crucial P7 finish and outqualifying his teammate in every qualifying this season.

However, Steiner has also explained that Kevin Magnussen, whose contract also expires at the end of the season, needs to start competing more closely with his new teammate.

Over the past few years, Haas has undergone a series of fast-paced and dramatic changes to its driver lineup.

This started with the decision to replace Nikita Mazepin with Kevin Magnussen during the 2022 pre-season tests, throwing a spanner in the works right before Bahrain.

Mick Schumacher also lost his place at Haas, with the American outfit opting to sign Nico Hulkenberg – a decision that already seems to be paying off.

In any case, Guenther Steiner has explained what his drivers must do to ensure a contract extension:

“Kevin is not happy at the moment; he is behind Nico. He is happy for the team, and he knows the car is good, so he can get there too”, nextgen-auto quotes him as saying.

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)

“He just needs to get everything back on his side because I know he can do it. 

“Ultimately, it all depends on performance, but at the moment, I’m pretty relaxed about it.

“Nico clearly deserves to stay if he continues like this. It’s like he never left F1. 

“For Kevin, I want to give him another five races at least to see where we are with him and then start thinking about what’s next.”

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)

It would be a stretch to conclude that Magnussen’s seat is in serious jeopardy, given that all F1 drivers are expected to at least match their teammates.

Some would argue that Steiner comments on his drivers more freely than other team principals.

Still, it seems safe to assume these statements will be nothing experienced figures like Magnussen and Hulkenberg cannot handle.

The Danish driver will be demanding more from himself after a tame start to 2023, and such pressures are almost guaranteed when drivers are chasing a contract extension.

In any case, after arriving to save the day for Haas last season, Magnussen must rise to the challenge of matching his often underestimated teammate in the upcoming rounds.

Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg does not have an assured contract for next season – although it seems likely that the German will earn a deal for 2024 at this current trajectory.