Hulkenberg return a 'poor reflection' on talent outside F1 - Webber

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Nico Hulkenberg signing with Haas in 2023 is a "poor reflection" on the talent outside Formula 1, Mark Webber argues.

The German, who last raced full-time in 2019 and has also made several stand-in appearances since, returns to the grid replacing Mick Schumacher next season.

And commenting on his latest 'Hulkenback', Nico revealed the fire was re-lit after attending several races during 2022.

"Obviously [after] 2019 I was out and I was happy, I had some distance and some breather from F1," he said.

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"In 2021, nothing much happened, and even at the beginning of this year, I wasn't stressing or thinking about it [returning] too much.

"But then towards the summer, it somehow grew in me again. When I came and visited races, and saw the action and the excitement, I had the desire to come back.

"And then the discussions started [with Haas].

"You never know until it's signed, but I think the last month, it got more and more concrete and serious, and I was getting more optimistic and confident that we could agree a deal."

Hulkenberg began his 2023 preparations by taking part in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi with Haas, completing 110 laps.

"It was hard, it was tough, I was feeling some human degradation towards the end of the day too. But that was to be expected," he assessed afterwards.

"Obviously it’s good, it does remind you, it does show you again the intensity these cars have and then you add the race to it, the competition, and it’s another story again.

"But I have a plan and I know what I have to do."


On the 35-year-old's comeback, former F1 driver turned pundit Webber thinks it says a lot about the current crop of drivers in F2 and elsewhere that a team like Haas feels it can't put trust in youth.

"I’m a little bit surprised to be honest," the Australian told Channel 4.

"I thought that it’s a bit of a poor reflection on the talent pool underneath [F1] at the moment. I think there are not enough guys that they can lean on to move up and replace Mick.

"We know Guenther [Steiner, team boss] is over with rookies. He wants the other end of the scale and has gone for a veteran.

"Nico can’t crash that car at all, he’s got to be perfect next year," Webber added.

"I know he’s losing some weight right now as we speak. He’s on the treadmill shaving that [fat] off, so good to luck to him."