Underrated and in-demand F1 star told to quit team who “don’t look to the future”

Audi interest could tempt one veteran F1 driver to make a change

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Qualifying
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4,…

Nico Hulkenberg has been advised by Ralf Schumacher to leave Haas.

Hulkenberg has quietly put together a string of unexpectedly bright performances in the first four rounds of the F1 2024 season.

He has scored points twice, and narrowly failed to do so at the F1 Japanese Grand Prix at the weekend.

Haas finished bottom of the constructors’ championship last year but, under Ayao Komatsu’s leadership as the new team principal, have enjoyed a fruitful start to the year largely thanks to Hulkenberg’s drives.

Now 36, and after returning from a three-year hiatus to F1, Hulkenberg is attracting interest from elsewhere.

German giants Audi, who run as Sauber until 2026, reportedly want him as a German driver to front their new project.

Schumacher was asked if Hulkenberg should stay at Haas next year, but he said to Sky: “No, certainly not.

“Haas is certainly a great team and everything will get better there, but the structure doesn’t look to the future.

“Investments are pending but are not being made because [team owner] Gene Haas has other ideas.

“It's a nice, small team for newcomers like Oliver Bearman."

Schumacher butted heads with Guenther Steiner, when he was Haas’ team principal, over the treatment of Mick Schumacher.

Mick was criticised for the frequency of his crashes and was ultimately axed from his F1 drive by Steiner, who insisted he no longer wanted rookies in his cars.

Steiner went from Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin to veteran duo Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.

Hulkenberg said after a bright start to the year: "I rate the leap we have made since the start of the season very positively and very well.

“We have a completely different starting point than last year.

“Last year in the race it was always a one-way street backwards, i.e. in the wrong direction.

"Now we've seen on four different routes that we can keep up. I'm happy and eager for more."

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