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Steiner impressed by Hulkenberg's speed in readapting to full-time F1 drive

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner was impressed by the speed at which Nico Hulkenberg became reacquainted with the rigours of Formula 1 without a full-time seat for three years.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Hulkenberg was signed for 2023 to replace the accident-prone Mick Schumacher, who scored points in his second season of F1 but also showed an alarming tendency to cost the team high repair bills.

This followed a three-year spell where Hulkenberg was often called upon as a super-sub at Racing Point and Aston Martin, jumping into the car at short notice during three separate COVID-19 diagnoses.

In 2020, Hulkenberg stepped in for Sergio Perez at the Silverstone team for the British and 70th Anniversary grands prix at Silverstone, qualifying third for the latter and finishing seventh. He also replaced Lance Stroll for a race that year at the Nurburgring.

The German was also called up at the start of 2022 to cover Sebastian Vettel in the opening two races of that season.

Reflecting on his decision to sign Hulkenberg, Steiner explained that he feared the Rhinelander would need time to fully reacquaint himself with the day-to-day work as an F1 driver - but his anxieties were quickly relieved.

"I've been pretty, pretty impressed. We took him for one reason, because we know we can drive a race car. The doubt was after three years as not a full-time driver, how long does it take him to catch up?" Steiner explained.

"It didn't take him any time because he was there from day one, which is very good. It's actually very impressive, but also as a human being, he tries to help the team and that's what we wanted with the experience, that's what I always said.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team and Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team and Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

"He was six or seven times in Q3 out of [the first] 11 races - that isn't too shabby, you know? And he's got nine points, so in the race he's pretty good.

"It's the car that's not good enough, so we need to work on the car - I don't think we've got a driver problem. The team is very happy with Nico, personally as well."

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Expanding on this, Steiner explained that Hulkenberg had immersed himself in the team quickly and developed strong working relationships from the get-go.

He added that the 2009 GP2 champion has been able to lean on his large quantity of experience to deal with the more difficult moments, having recognised that helping to build Haas up would not be a short-term project.

"First of all, he surprised me how quick he was on the ball, how quick he was integrated within the team. It was quite amazing how he immediately understood people," Steiner said.

"But again, we are talking experience and he was doing this for a long time. But it's also how he goes about racing, he goes about it in the right way and puts in the right effort - not trying to overdo it, you know?

"He knows exactly what he needs to do. It's the experience - [he knows] it's not chocolate, it's not sweet to make, so it takes some time."

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