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Formula 1 Australian GP

Hulkenberg: “Good things happening” with Haas F1 team

Nico Hulkenberg says there are “good things happening” at the Haas Formula 1 team after a strong start to his 2023 comeback season.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Hulkenberg returned with the US-owned F1 team after three years without a full-time seat.

During his absence he kept his hand in with five reserve appearances with Racing Point/Aston Martin.

The German has twice made Q3 in the first three races with his new team, and in Australia he scored his first points with a strong run to seventh place, although Haas felt he should have been a place higher and protested the results without success.

“I take a lot of positives out of this race and [going] forward,” Hulkenberg said after the Melbourne event. “I feel a lot of good things happening still. I'm refreshed, I've got a good mindset, a very positive mindset, I'm feeling hungry.

“I really enjoy working with the team, exploiting the car, experimenting with the car, and we've got a very nice rhythm and momentum, and I think that's what we want to preserve and keep now, and take that into the next couple of races.”

Hulkenberg admitted that he now has high expectations after the car proved to be competitive.

“It's my third race after three years out,” he noted. “It's crazy and interesting how people get so used to it and spoiled so quickly. The first few races I mean, we've been in Q3 two times, once I think 11th.

“Kevin [Magnussen] scored a point in Jeddah, I was in the points now, so I think if you take a step back and look at it, I think it's not a bad start of the season.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04, the remainder of the field on the opening lap

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04, the remainder of the field on the opening lap

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

Hulkenberg is feeling more comfortable in the car as he gets more mileage in it.

“Obviously the beginning of the season is such a steep learning curve for the team,” he said. “But also for myself after the time away. So I feel pretty happy and confident that there's more good things ahead of us.

“I felt good from the get-go. I think the connection between me and the car, obviously, we're still growing, we're still only in race three. And I feel like it's getting better and better, which is nice.”

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Hulkenberg acknowledged that there is close competition in the midfield pack, which means that it’s easy to move up and down the order.

“I feel you have the top four teams, or five, I don't know with Alpine, but then the midfield is five teams. So there's no backmarkers anymore.

“We're all like in one bubble pretty much within a couple of tenths. So a small mistake can have a huge consequence. But if it's good also vice versa, you find yourself right in the top 10. But it's fun, so competitive.”

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