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Aston Martin highlight 'gifted' Hulkenberg's key strength

After two stand-in appearances at Aston Martin in 2022, Nico Hulkenberg will return to the grid with Haas in 2023.

Aston Martin Performance Director Tom McCullough has highlighted "naturally gifted" Nico Hulkenberg's key strength ahead of the German's return to the F1 grid. Hulkenberg was left without a seat following his exit from Renault at the end of 2019, though went on to substitute at Racing Point/Aston Martin during the 2020 and 2022 seasons due to drivers testing positive for COVID-19. McCullough admits that Hulkenberg's ability to jump in the Aston Martin at short notice for the first two races of 2022 was impressive. "He was thrown right in at the deep end at a time that we were scratching our heads a bit with a car," McCullough told media, including RacingNews365.com . "He obviously turned up in Bahrain, just straight into FP3, I think. [There was] not a lot of time, seat fit, compromises, straight in there. "He's a very talented, naturally gifted driver. You put him in a qualifying or a race situation and ask him to go extract the most out of the car, [and] he's pretty good at doing that, whatever he drives and has driven over the years. "He is a class act. He's very talented. He's got solid experience, and that helps him jump in a car and drive quickly."

Hulkenberg praised for particular strength

When asked about Hulkenberg's greatest strength as a driver, McCullough pointed to his "natural car control". "One thing he's always been able to do is drive very quickly right to the peak of a rear slip angle. [He has] really natural car control," McCullough explained. "Whether it's in the wet, low grip, he straightaway can go to where the grip is. Over the years, he learned how to get on top of the Pirelli tires, which I think frustrated him a bit at the start. "He's a driver who just wants to drive fast. You spend half your time trying to slow him down. In the earlier, higher degradation era of the Pirelli tyres, he had to get on top of that." McCullough believes that Hulkenberg was able to learn from his former teammate Sergio Perez. "I think working alongside Checo, the two of them helped each other with strengths and weaknesses," he continued. "With experience, he learned how to handle race weekends well. When he stepped back in our car, in particular in 2020, having never driven [it] and you put him at somewhere like Silverstone, which has got low-, medium-, high-speed corners and he qualifies up at the front... "He's just a class act and a really solid driver." Hulkenberg will return to the F1 grid with Haas in 2023, partnering Kevin Magnussen.

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