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Nico Hülkenberg Interview: Haas Driver On Guenther Steiner’s Exit, Australian Grand Prix And Future In F1

  • Mar 23, 2024
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Nico Hülkenberg Interview: Haas Driver On Guenther Steiner’s Exit, Australian Grand Prix And Future In F1

Just a couple of days before Nico Hülkenberg was set to line up on the grid for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, the Haas driver was able to grab a couple of hours meeting avid Formula 1 fans and the Heinemann team in Sydney Airport’s T2 and T3.

Heinemann has been an official sponsor of Nico Hülkenberg since 2023 and together they’ve teamed up to offer fans the ultimate Formula 1 experience: the chance to win an exclusive trip to Melbourne for this year’s race including coveted VIP privileges, a behind-the-scenes visit to the pit lane, and an exclusive meet and greet with Nico himself.

It’s been a steady start to the season for Nico Hülkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and the Haas Formula 1 team, finishing in the points during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in the second round.

Before the year had even begun, the team was rocked by the departure of Guenther Steiner, the Team Principal whose status within the sport had arguably grown beyond the paradigms of the Haas pitwall, thanks, in part, to the resounding success of Netflix’s behind-the-scenes docuseries Drive to Survive.

“Well, obviously it was already quite close to the start of the season. So you know, we didn’t have much time really to think about it. The preseason – preparations were already underway. In F1, you know, business goes on and you have work to do; you just [have to] crack on with it,” Nico Hülkenberg told DMARGE.

“It’s obviously it feels a bit different. Because the [new] head of the team is a very different character and personality. But yeah, we’re very focused on the season right now; we’re two races in with Melbourne ahead this weekend. So I’ll focus on that.”

Few characters in Formula 1 have enjoyed as much of a renaissance as Guenther Steiner. His departure from Haas at the beginning of the 2024 Formula 1 season came as a shock to many, but it wasn’t completely unexpected, with Steiner himself admitting he probably stayed at the German F1 team for too long.

For fans outside of the sport, the celebrated docuseries introduced the unpredictable world of Formula 1 to an entirely new global audience, leading to an influx of millions of new fans around the world. The so-called Netflix Effect brought Formula 1 to the masses, breaking U.S. viewership records and even led to a third North American circuit – the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix – for the first time in history.

“Netflix definitely gave a massive boost to the popularity of Formula 1, and also put it on a much bigger map globally,” Hülkenberg continued. “It’s just the biggest stage now, you know, we’re much more recognised around the world, which I think is good. It’s cool.”

“It’s obviously also good from the business point of view, for Formula 1 and everyone involved. I’m happy — I’m happy to be part of [it] — to be involved. I’m really enjoying myself with everything that comes with it. So yeah, it’s a pretty fascinating industry.”

It’s no secret that Hülkenberg’s contract is up at the end of this season, joining half of the drivers on the grid who will be assessing their options after the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. Rumours have been circulating about the German driver’s future — as is the nature of the sport — but the German driver is admittedly relaxed; a luxury afforded to a talented driver who has competed on the Formula 1 grid for more than 14 years.

“At the moment it’s important to perform because that’s the best advertisement a driver can do,” Hülkenberg admits. “I still feel hungry – I think I’ve got a good couple of years left but obviously I need a contract and a team… so it’s actually a very interesting and exciting situation.

“I feel I’m in a pretty good position. I feel good about it and relaxed but I’m looking you know to sign another deal maybe with Haas or maybe with another team. I don’t know that – only time will tell.”

This weekend, however, the focus is on Melbourne and the Australian Grand Prix; it’s a circuit that has historically been a favourable track for Hülkenberg, finishing P7 in 2023 and 2019 to score valuable points for his team. For Haas, it’s an opportunity to build upon a good weekend in Saudi Arabia and cement its place in the top half of the Constructors’.

“We’re going to fight – we’re going to give it everything you know. It’s always about maximising your potential,” Hülkenberg declared.

“We’ve obviously seen in the first two weekends that the top five teams, you know, they’re pretty well ahead. Then there’s a bit of a gap and then there’s the rest of the other five teams, so it’s very competitive. It’s challenging, you know, you have to get it right every weekend to get something out of it. But I look forward to that challenge and feel ready for it.”

The Australian Grand Prix begins this weekend in Melbourne on Sunday 24 March at 3 pm.


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