Former Force India and Red Bull Racing engineer Blake Hinsey questioned Haas’ decision to bring in Nico Hulkenberg, calling it a “really strange appointment”.
Haas announced on the eve of the season-ending 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that it would not renew Mick Schumacher’s contract. Instead the team went with “solid and reliable driver” Hulkenberg.
The German will join Kevin Magnussen in an over 30 formation, Hulkenberg at 35 the third oldest driver on the grid.
Although Hulkenberg hasn’t had a regular place in the race for three seasons, team boss Guenther Steiner strongly believes he’s the man for the job, saying every team he’s been with has “always stepped up” because he knows’ exactly what needs to be done to improve the team”.
But Hinsey, who worked with Hulkenberg at Force India, isn’t convinced.
“I like Niko, because he was in the other car when I was at Force India,” he said according to GPFans. “He is a good driver.
“Will she be better off than Mick in two years in two years? I have no idea. And it’s super hard to tell!
“It looks like Mick didn’t really push. He was really finding his feet and had a couple of moments in the middle of the season where you’re like, “Okay, okay,” but now it’s very hard to tell.
“It’s a really weird date and I think it doesn’t make any sense to me.”
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“Will Kevin tear him apart?”
But while Hinsey feels the team should have stayed with Schumacher, they didn’t, they went with Hulkenberg who signed him to a two-year contract.
2023 marks his first full season of racing since 2019, the German making just four substitute appearances for Racing Point, now Aston Martin, in the years following his departure from Renault.
The German hopes to follow Magnussen’s example and score in his first leg back, as the Dane did on his return last season.
But as far as who will win the teammate battle, Hinsey says it’s a case of maybe.
“I think [it’s] a very interesting appointment”, he continued. “Will it do well? I think so. He’ll do just fine.
“Will Kevin destroy it? Perhaps.”
But of what he’s sure, their partnership could be golden for Drive to Survive.
He said, “It’s going to be an interesting dynamic at Haas with those two. There was, in the past, a very interesting exchange of words between the two when they were racing for different teams.
“Don’t let in the Drive To Survive cameras!”
Haas’ teammate war could be the dank squib of 2023
Everyone is talking about the relationship, or rather the potential breakup of said relationship, between Hulkenberg and Magnussen based on a 2017 incident.
The two clashed after the contest when Hulkenberg took on Magnussen as the Dane gave a televised interview and we got the infamous “suck my balls” quote.
Magnussen revealed that he was surprised that, of all that had happened in his F1 career, that was the one moment that everyone was still fixated on.
It was an incident in its own right, a firefight of the moment, and if it hadn’t been for the line of ‘balls’ we would all have passed quickly.
Five years later, both on the grid in Bahrain, they joked about it, Hulkenberg even used it as a greeting, and they declared the matter closed. So should the rest of us be.
Now they’re both in their thirties, they’re both fathers, and they’re both men who really appreciate this opportunity Steiner gave them because they thought their careers were over.
Yes, they will have the usual clashes between teammates as all riders do, but neither of them will throw away this opportunity for a moment from the past.