Nico Hulkenberg was able to take some positives away from his 2023 Formula 1 season with Haas, despite spending Sundays in free-fall mode down the order.
The 2023 Haas F1 single seater was a car that was able to switch on its tyres quickly for a one qualifying lap, and Hulkenberg put that to good use, qualifying in the top ten on nine occasions in 2023.
But that also meant, the VF-23 was too hard on its tyres which mean Hulkenberg’s hard work in qualifying will get undone a mere few laps after the start of the race, as he painfully drops down the order with tyres fading away.
And while the American team brought a major upgrade to the car at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, that did not seem to give the results they hoped for, even the drivers having a split opinion about it. Hulkenberg reverted to the older spec car, while teammate Kevin Magnussen soldiered on with the new one.
Quoted by Formula 1’s Official Website, Hulkenberg was asked whether he has enjoyed his comeback to the sport since 2019, his last season as a full time driver with Renault, he responded: “I have, I have very much actually.
All was good aside from the sporting side
“Whilst obviously the season sporting-wise is not satisfying and not what we wanted, far from it actually, still all the other positives outweigh the difficult Sundays and the lack of points.
“Just being in the competition again, fighting on Lap 1, that thrill, that excitement, and altogether the work with the team… even the travelling, the [other] stuff, it’s all good. I feel happy and ready for another one,” the German explained.
In the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 2023 season finale, Hulkenberg did an excellent job to qualify in eighth place, but that was were the positives ended, he finished the race down in 15th.
“It’s the story of the season, we just don’t have enough pace,” the Haas driver reflected afterwards. “I think [tyre] deg probably was not the problem today, just pace, we couldn’t keep up with the faster cars.
“It’s just one more time, but we put that one to bed now and hopefully have some better tools next year,” the 36-year-old concluded.
Hulkenberg finished his comeback season 16th in the 2023 F1 Drivers’ Standings, on nine points six more than those scored by teammate Magnussen who was 19th in the standings.