Former Haas F1 driver not on board with move to bring on journeyman Nico Hulkenberg.
- Romain Grosjean, now racing for Andretti Autosport in the NTT IndyCar Series, was ousted by Haas as the team replaced the existing lineup with rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin for 2021.
- Fast forward to 2023, and the team will have journeyman Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen driving the two Haas cars.
- Hulkenberg has been essentially out of F1 full time since he lost his works Renault seat at the end of 2019.
Former Haas Formula 1 Team driver Romain Grosjean thinks the American team made the wrong call in dumping Mick Schumacher for 2023.
At the end of 2020, just after his near-fatal fiery crash in Bahrain, Grosjean—now racing for Andretti Autosport in the NTT IndyCar Series—was ousted by Haas as the team replaced the existing lineup with rookies Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin for 2021. Both of those rookies are no longer part of Haas, with the team deciding to pair Grosjean’s former teammate Kevin Magnussen with 35-year-old F1 journeyman Nico Hulkenberg at Haas next year.
Romain Grosjean drives for Andretti Autosport in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Greg DohertyGetty ImagesWhen asked why that decision was made, team principal Guenther Steiner said, “Because we are no longer the same Haas team as at the beginning of 2021. Now we need experienced hands on the steering wheel.”Grosjean, who will be part of Lamborghini’s factory effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, disagrees with his former F1 boss.”Mick Schumacher did a good last part of the season and from my point of view there was no reason to change anything in the lineup,” Grosjean said. “The team probably just wanted a different driver.”However, the Frenchman agrees that Hulkenberg is competent.”Hulkenberg is a very talented driver who used to show great speed,” said Grosjean. “Let’s see what he can achieve at Haas, but again that’s not the decision I would have made on the driver question.”
Indeed, Hulkenberg has been essentially out of F1 full time since he lost his works Renault seat at the end of 2019. He admits to having felt “human degradation” towards the end of the post-Abu Dhabi test.
Steiner isn’t worried.
“We also have pre-season testing in Bahrain,” Steiner said. “I think he’ll be right on top of it by then. Physically, these Formula 1 cars are quite demanding and it will take him a while to get used to them because the only way you train your muscles is to drive the cars.
“He was reasonably fit already, but then we also had the question of whether he is immediately sharp when he comes back after being out for a while. But if you look at the results he showed when he just came in at the last minute, he was pretty good.”
As for Schumacher, he looks set to keep his F1 dream alive next year with a non-racing third driver role at Mercedes. The 23-year-old admits to may have miscalculated the task of going head-to-head with the highly experienced Magnussen last year.
“He went into this season without great expectations. He had nothing to lose. But I did,” Schumacher said. “Looking back, given the signs, my approach was probably wrong.”