In two years Haas went from having two rookies in Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin to having one of the more experienced line-ups on the grid, with Hulkenberg returning from three years without a full-time driver to partner Kevin Magnussen.
The German entered Q3 and qualified 10th on his debut for the team in Bahrain, and also started 10th in Saudi Arabia after gaining one position due to Charles Leclerc’s penalty.
As a result, Hulkenberg qualified better than Magnussen in both races, although the Dane ran the better race in Jeddah, taking his first point of the year with 10th place.
“I think he gave us what we were looking for,” said Steiner when asked about Hulkenberg’s contribution in response to a question from Motorsport.com.
“And we saw it right away. I mean, Kevin struggled in qualifying, Nico didn’t.”
“But Kevin isn’t mad about that. In fact, he’s quite happy that Nico hasn’t struggled, because he knows he just has to get there. ‘Otherwise he’d be like, ‘What’s wrong?’ Is qualifying 15th and 18th a disaster?”
“But we got into Q3 well, we were very strong (in Bahrain). So Kevin knows it’s there. He just has to get there.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team
Foto di: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Many teams have struggled to extract the maximum potential from their cars this season, with tires and track temperatures playing a huge role.
And with Haas nearing its budget cap, the bills for damages suffered by Schumacher in a series of crashes last year would be even more stressful for the team.
Steiner acknowledged that Hulkenberg’s experience can be useful in these areas.
“That’s why we took him on,” said the Team Principal. “You think I’m saying this in hindsight, but we all know that with this regulation, that’s the way to go.”
“There are 10 good teams. Now, they all work with a very similar budget, they all have good drivers, they are all solid financially, they are all solid technically.
“With such a compact group center, one rider can make the difference, to get the best right away. And that’s what we wanted, an expert rider who would take us in that direction. So, obviously, we’re very satisfied with what happened.” .
After the team has had issues with previous line-ups, Hulkenberg and Magnussen are under strict orders to be careful when competing with each other. A rule that both have accepted, demonstrating their collective maturity.
Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
“At Haas we have a policy of we don’t block each other, we don’t fight each other,” Magnussen said.
“I can push to try and keep him behind, but I can’t shut the door on him and stuff like that.”
“So, it’s about being nice to each other and making sure we’re working for the team and not for ourselves.”
“I think that’s a good rule of thumb,” Hulkenberg said. “We don’t want to complicate each other’s lives. We are here to maximize our performances and score points as a team.”
“So I think we’re perfectly fine. There were no issues. I got through that and there were absolutely no issues.”
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