As he intensified his preparations for 2023, Nico Hulkenberg jokingly claimed that he experienced some "human degradation" toward the end of his comeback Formula 1 test with Haas in Abu Dhabi.
Last Thursday, Haas made the announcement that it had signed Hulkenberg to be Kevin Magnussen’s teammate for the upcoming season in place of Mick Schumacher. It will be Hulkenberg’s first full racing season since he competed for Renault in 2019. Since then, he has made a few starts as a stand-in driver. Hulkenberg was given the entire day of testing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday by Haas so he could experience the 2022 Haas and aid in his preparations for next year.
Hulkenberg, whose most recent test was with Aston Martin in August, completed 110 laps as he had the chance to familiarise himself with the team’s systems and the physical demands of an F1 car once more. It was difficult, Hulkenberg remarked. “At the end of the day, I was also experiencing some human degradation, but that was to be expected. To be honest, I handled things better than I anticipated. That’s excellent, but there are still three months left of serious preparation.
Hulkenberg gained experience with the new F1 cars through his reserve position at Aston Martin, finishing Pirelli tyre testing, and competing in two races when Sebastian Vettel was sidelined by COVID-19 at the beginning of the year. To “remind you and show you again the intensity these cars have,” he thought the test was beneficial It becomes a different picture when you factor in racing and competition, he continued. However, I have a strategy and know what to do.
Despite struggling to maintain its early-season form, Haas finished the season in eighth place in the constructors’ championship as it recovered from a pointless year in 2021. Kevin Magnussen placed fifth in the first race in Bahrain, and despite taking the pole in Brazil, the team didn’t manage to finish higher than ninth in the remaining 12 races. Hulkenberg believed the test was a valuable way to give Haas an outside perspective of the VF-22 car and to help him become familiar with the team’s fundamental procedures.