Nico Hulkenberg is reportedly a man in demand as the Formula 1 silly season approaches, with Red Bull and Audi watching his progress at Haas with interest.
Just a year after coming out of apparent F1 retirement, Hullkenberg has impressed at Haas and roundly beaten Kevin Magnussen – who was strong himself against Mick Schumacher in 2022.
Hulkenberg‘s scored nine of Haas‘ 11 points in 2023 and leads Magnussen 9-3 in race head-to-heads and those performances haven’t gone unnoticed by two big names around F1.
According to F1-Insider.com, Max Verstappen has been particularly impressed by Hulkenberg while Sergio Perez continues to struggle in the other Red Bull garage.
Perez has a contract at Red Bull for 2024 but that hasn’t stopped rumours swirling that he’ll be axed if Verstappen‘s domination of the intra-team battle continues.
Despite Verstappen starting sixth in the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix and Perez hitting the front of the race early on, the Dutchman still easily caught and passed his teammate on lap 17 – well before the halfway point of the race. Verstappen went on to beat Perez by 22 seconds.
And Perez doesn’t have to look far for evidence of Red Bull‘s ruthlessness – they sacked Nyck de Vries from AlphaTauri less than halfway through his debut F1 season for Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian has been mooted as an option to replace Perez but Hulkenberg‘s name is new into the mix.
Meanwhile, Audi are also apparently monitoring Hulkenberg. The German giants take over Sauber in 2026 and are on the lookout for their new driver lineup.
Lando Norris had been mooted as a potential signing after Andreas Seidl jumped ship from McLaren to oversee the project, but those rumours have cooled since the Woking outfit’s upturn in form.
“Any option would be better for Hulkenberg than Haas”
F1 Insider aren’t the only ones picking up F1 interest in Hulkenberg though. Ralf Schumacher has been impressed by the man who replaced his nephew at Haas but warned Hulkenberg not to stagnate the American team.
Schumacher raced 180 times in F1 and scored 27 podiums – 27 more than the perenially unlucky Hulkenberg.
“Any option would be better than Haas,” Sky Germany’s Schumacher wrote. “You get the impression from the outside that there is more potential in the other teams.
“At Williams, for example, a lot of money is being invested and new momentum has come in there, but also at AlphaTauri. At Haas, on the other hand, you get the impression that there is stagnation.”
Where is the next F1 2023 race?
F1 will return from its summer break with the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort on August 25-27, where championship leader Max Verstappen will be racing on home soil.