Nico Hulkenberg says he 'has not lost an edge' as he prepares for F1 comeback with Haas

Nico Hulkenberg returns to permanent F1 seat in 2023 after replacing Mick Schumacher at Haas; German has not driven full time since leaving Renault in 2019 but has filled in for Racing Point and Aston Martin over last few seasons; Hulkenberg will test with Haas in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday

Last Updated: 21/11/22 11:50am

Nico Hulkenberg will return to a permanent F1 seat in 2023 after replacing Mick Schumacher at Haas

Nico Hulkenberg will return to a permanent F1 seat in 2023 after replacing Mick Schumacher at Haas

Nico Hulkenberg says he has “not lost an edge” as he prepares to make a full-time return to Formula 1 for the first time since 2019 after replacing Mick Schumacher at Haas for the 2023 season.

The German filled in at Racing Point during 2020 when Sergio Perez and then Lance Stroll were unwell and also deputised for Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin for the first two Grands Prix of the 2022 campaign after his countryman tested positive for Covid-19.

Hulkenberg has now been handed his first permanent drive since departing Renault at the end of 2019, with the 35-year-old to partner Kevin Magnussen next term as Haas aim to improve on eighth place in the constructors’ championship in 2022.

Speaking to Sky Sports News ahead of a post-season test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Hulkenberg said: “I want to be the best version of myself and it is always exciting to start with a new team and meet everyone for the first time, get going, get working.

Check out highlights of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from Yas Marina Circuit as Max Verstappen finished ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez

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Check out highlights of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from Yas Marina Circuit as Max Verstappen finished ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez

Check out highlights of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from Yas Marina Circuit as Max Verstappen finished ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez

“Being third driver is a much more relaxed environment. You don’t have the performance pressure but that is what I wanted to come back to, the competition, the racing.

“I don’t feel with three years away that I have lost an edge. If anything, I feel fresh, reset and hungry again.

“Some things I will approach slightly differently. I had a break and time to reflect on many things and reassess them. I did a lot of good things in the past, too.

“We [Magnussen and I] want to bring the team forwards and optimise what we have. It is going to be a long season, 24 races. Hopefully, there can be a couple of highlights and we race for good results.”

Kevin Magnussen achieved Haas' first pole position in Formula 1 at this year's Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Kevin Magnussen achieved Haas’ first pole position in Formula 1 at this year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix

When asked about 23-year-old Schumacher, who scored 12 points during the 2022 season, Hulkenberg added: “He is young, he’s ambitious.

“I am sure that whatever he does next year he will have time to digest and learn. I am sure he will bounce back. He still has a lot of time ahead of him.”

The 2023 Formula 1 season begins in Bahrain on the weekend of March 4, with the calendar to feature a proposed 24 races, up from 22 in 2022.

The French Grand Prix has been dropped but Qatar and China are set to return, while the Las Vegas Grand Prix will be held as the penultimate race of the campaign, ahead of the Abu Dhabi finale on November 26.