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Nico Hulkenberg, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team
Nico Hulkenberg, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

Ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain, Nico updates us on how he's spent the winter break and his outlook on the 2024 season.

Entering your second season with MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, the big change this off-season is a change of leadership with Ayao Komatsu taking over as Team Principal. What do you think Ayao will bring to the role and what is your relationship with him? 

“My relationship with Ayao is pretty good. Obviously, I worked closely with him last year across the season. I think we have a big change on that side but it’s interesting. There are other teams that have done a similar thing, putting technical people in the team principal role, and that has worked quite well for other teams. I think Ayao will work in his way, but I think he brings a lot of technical knowledge and know-how expertise to the table.”


After your first full season back as an F1 driver in three years, how did the season affect you and how did you spend your off-season? 

“The season didn’t really take any toll. Of course, it’s a lot of traveling but the racing is fine, that’s what we train for and why we have to be fit. The off-season was good, I took the first two weeks a bit easier after Abu Dhabi and relaxed, met friends, and used the downtime to unwind a bit. Since the middle of December, I’ve picked up the training pace again. There hasn’t been much traveling for me in the off-season, I’ve been spending time with family and getting ready.”

Nico Hulkenberg, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

The team brought a late update to Austin, but you chose to revert to the old spec for the remaining races of the season. With the VF-24 an evolution of that update, what are your expectations for the car? 

“Hopefully, the car will be a bit better with the limitations that we found last year. You naturally want to do better than the previous year, that’s normal. We did have a difficult year last year, so we definitely want to improve – especially the race weakness we had last year – that was something we need to and want to get on top of. I’ve seen the new car, it does look better, it is an evolution. We managed to clean up some things but at this point of the year, like every year, you’re a bit in the dark as to where you are and where you’re going to rank, so we just need to keep our heads down, keep working hard, and stay focused.”


After a full season together, how do you and Kevin Magnussen work together, especially when feeding back on the drivability issues of the car? 

“I think we work together really well. It’s been a good match and there’s been no problems or friction whatsoever. I think there are a lot of similarities in our lives, we’re both more experienced, we both have young families, and we both had a break from Formula 1 and then came back. We’re very aligned even on what we want from the car, so it’s been really nice working with him and I look forward to keeping that relationship going.” 

Nico Hulkenberg, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

What are your goals for this year? 

“My goal is to have fun, to enjoy the season, and to keep that positive feeling that I have inside of me because that brings out the best in me and allows me to perform my best, at my best level. Like I said earlier, sporting-wise of course we want to improve from last year, do better. We had a lot of good qualifying sessions last year, but I think this year the objective is to try and translate that into race days as well to score more points.”


The Las Vegas Grand Prix debuted last season taking the tally of US races to three alongside Miami and Austin. What stands out to you regarding the three American races, both in terms of the fanbase, atmosphere etc – both track and off it in the respective cities? 

“They bring spectacle to the calendar. I think every race is really different and unique and also the US races all feel very different, they all have their own character, and it’s cool that they all have differences. I personally enjoy them a lot. Miami was the first time for me last year and that was fun. I thought Las Vegas was also really great, especially afterward. When I had some time to digest everything, I was like wow, that was really special and cool to be a part of, so I look forward to doing them all again this year.” 


You passed the 200 grand prix milestone last season. Are you still feeling as fresh and ready as 2010? 

“Of course, I am! I’m very fresh, I’m very ready. I’ve got over 200 grand prix experiences under my belt, which I feel will help me a lot. Physically, I feel totally fine. I’m in really good shape and I’ve invested a lot over the winter to push my fitness levels even more. I feel really ready and keen for this season.”

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