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Hulkenberg: Break from F1 race seat was "very positive"

Nico Hulkenberg says that his time away from a Formula 1 race seat was "positive" and allowed him a valuable opportunity for reflection.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

The German returns to the grid with Haas this season after three years as a reserve for the Racing Point/Aston Martin team.

During that time he made five appearances as a substitute for drivers who were sidelined by COVID-19.

Daniel Ricciardo has made it clear that he sees his new job as a Red Bull reserve as a chance to get his head together after a tough 2022 season, and Hulkenberg agrees that he was in a similar situation when he left Renault.

"It's been very positive for me," he told Autosport. "Obviously, I can only talk about my own case. But yeah, 2019 was not always great. I felt I wanted that time away at that point.

"And then once you step away, you also develop a different understanding and new perspectives on how things went, what you've done.

"You reflect on many things, and process the whole thing. Even a winter break, you think three months is a lot – it's actually not, because you're still connected, you still do work. And the time properly away has I think helped me a lot.

"I got married, I became a father. I mean, that all happened, that's just life. I think that doesn't influence me. I mean, it influences anyone in a way obviously, because it does something, but it was more the disconnection in the professional sense."

Hulkenberg acknowledges that his reserve job with Aston Martin kept him in the game while still allowing him a chance to relax, away from the pressures of having to perform every weekend.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

However, it also made him realise how much he missed the buzz of racing.

"It was a very different role to what I used to do," he said. "If you're not in the car, if you're not in the hot seat, and you don't have to perform day in, day out, it's a very different feeling.

"You're much more relaxed, because you just cut out the bad days that you get in the car.

"So from that point of view that's been relaxed, but at the same time you miss what you get from racing, the excitement, the thrill, the kick. And that's also that feeling that prevailed, that I want to go back, and I want to do this for some more time."

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Hulkenberg concedes that his time off also gave him a chance to reflect on his career and the choices he made over the years.

"The benefit of hindsight is a beautiful thing. Of course, I would have done a few things differently. But no point in dwelling on the past. Learn from it, try to correct it in the future, and do the right thing.

"What I said earlier about this time away, when you reflect on things, when you see things from a different angle, there are certainly some things that I will change how I will do them in the future. But there are very personal things that I don't want to go into detail.

"And frankly, there were a few missed opportunities to set the highlights that were necessary to do the final step to a top team, that's a fact. But I guess Haas want me for a reason – and they believe I've still got it and that I'm quality material."

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