Hulkenberg fielded “human degradation” towards end of comeback F1 test

Haas announced last Thursday that it had signed Hulkenberg for next year to replace Mick Schumacher as Kevin Magnussen’s teammate.

It will mark Hulkenberg’s first full season of racing since 2019 when he drove for Renault, having since made a handful of starts as a stand-in driver.

To help Hulkenberg in his preparations for next year, Haas handed the German the complete day of test running in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, giving him a chance to sample the 2022 Haas.

Hulkenberg completed 110 laps as he got a chance to learn the team’s systems and get used to the physical demands of an F1 car again, his most recent test coming with Aston Martin in August.

“It was hard, it was tough,” said Hulkenberg. “I was feeling some human degradation towards the end of the day too, but that was to be expected.

“Actually, I coped better than I expected to be honest. So that’s good, but still obviously three months of hardcore preparation now.”

Hulkenberg had experience with the new generation of F1 cars through his reserve role at Aston Martin, completing Pirelli tire testing and taking part in two races at the start of the year when Sebastian Vettel was sidelined by COVID-19.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

But he felt the test was good to “remind you and show you again the intensity these cars have.”

“Then you add the racing to it and the competition, it’s another story again,” he added.

“But I have a plan and I know what to do.”

Haas finished the season eighth in the constructors’ championship as it bounced back from a point-less year in 2021, albeit struggling to sustain its early-season form.

Kevin Magnussen finished fifth in the opening round in Bahrain, and while he scored a shock pole in Brazil, the team failed to record a result better than ninth in the final 12 rounds.

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Hulkenberg felt the test was a useful way to give an outside perspective of the VF-22 car to Haas, as well as helping him get to grips with the basic operations of the team.

“The team has worked with this car all year long, so they know it pretty well,” said Hulkenberg.

“But sometimes to hear it from someone who comes [in]because drivers get used to the car pretty, even during one day, you can get used to things pretty easily – sometimes it’s good to have someone new come in and have a different opinion and perspective.

“But for me, it was about getting a first taste of it, experiencing the car, getting the mileage and a lot of standard, basic procedures as well which are important, because pre-season is pretty limited as we know.”

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