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Haas F1 adds Nico Hülkenberg to their 2023 team

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Formula One: United States Grand Prix-Qualifying
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Haas F1 is going to be must-watch next season with Nico Hülkenberg in the fold

The Formula One circuit heads to Yas Marina for the final race of the 2022 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, but there are still some matters of business left to decide before the 2023 campaign begins. Rumors are swirling about the future of Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto, and Williams Racing is still deciding on their second driver for the upcoming season.

Then there was the future at Haas F1 Team, and who would be the second driver next year.

Haas completed one of those matters on Thursday. In an announcement released shortly after midnight, the team stated that they were parting ways with driver Mick Schumacher.

The 2022 season has been a disappointment for Schumacher, who missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and recorded a pair of DNFs at the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Montreal Grand Prix when he retired due to engine trouble. While he did record his first F1 top-10 finish at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix, he enters the final race of the season sitting 16th on points.

Team Principal Guenther Steiner thanked Schumacher in a statement, acknowledging his “contribution” to the team over the past few seasons:

As for who is getting the second seat at Haas F1? None other than veteran Nico Hülkenberg.

Hülkenberg has 181 career starts, and was last a full-time driver with Renault during the 2019 season. He spent the past three seasons as a reserve driver, with Racing Point in 2020, and then with Aston Martin F1 during 2021 and 2022 (after Racing Point rebranded under the Aston Martin banner for the 2021 season).

Over his F1 career, Hülkenberg secured one pole position, back at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2010, his first season on the circuit. His best finish in an F1 Grand Prix is fourth, which he accomplished in three different events: The 2012 Belgian Grand Prix (driving for Force India), the 2013 Korean Grand Prix (driving for Sauber F1), and the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix (driving for Force India).

Hülkenberg has never enjoyed a podium finish, although Haas supporters are hoping that changes in 2023.

What makes this move even more fascinating is who his teammate will be at Haas: Kevin Magnussen. The two drivers had a bit of a dust-up during — and after — the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix. Magnussen and Hülkenberg were battling for position with nine laps remaining when Magnussen ... we can say pushed ... Hülkenberg off the track. Magnussen received a time penalty for the incident, but Hülkenberg was forced to retire with brake and gearbox issues.

After the race, while Magnussen was being interviewed by Danish TV, Hülkenberg confronted him, and the exchange has become something of recent F1 lore:

The first season of the Netflix documentary “Drive to Survive” played up a supposed feud between the drivers, but the two have moved past the incident. Back in 2020, when there were rumors of Hülkenberg joining Haas, Magnussen downplayed the exchange: “It was dramatised massively, I’m getting really tired of this subject. Between me and Nico there’s really been only one incident in Hungary two years ago. It’s incredible we are still talking about it.”

Hülkenberg even greeted Magnussen with the Danish driver’s ... colorful retort prior to the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix:

That’s my exact words to him. And we actually hadn’t... It’s not like I dislike Kevin but after that happened in Budapest we haven’t really spoken a word since. Even before that, we’ve never really spoken to each other.

I thought it was about time. Because I don’t dislike him, I just thought that incident on the track was a little bit harsh.

As racing drivers you do tend to disagree every now and then. But I thought it was quite funny to greet him with the ‘Suck my balls, honey.’ He quite liked it!

The man in charge of keeping the two drivers on the same page? None other than Steiner, who has become something of a cult hero in F1 circles thanks to the Netflix documentary. If you are unfamiliar with the Haas Team Principal, this expletive-filled clip that includes the aftermath of the 2019 British Grand Prix — when Magnussen and fellow Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean collided on the first lap, knocking both cars out of the race — offers a good flavor:

Haas has since leaned into the scene, selling “Foksmash” T-shirts on their official team store website.

(For the record, I am hoping Santa brings me one this holiday season. I love my F1 Team).

If nothing else, this should be amazing to watch.

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