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Nico Hulkenberg

Has Steiner's departure created a divide within the team?

Nico Hulkenberg believes the departure of Guenther Steiner will "leave holes we will have to fill" as they look to improve their fortunes.

Hulkenberg Abu Dhabi
To news overview © XPBimages

It has been one of the most dramatic and messy Formula 1 off-seasons for some time, and it was all kicked off with the news that Guenther Steiner would vacate his position as Team Principal.

Following years of disappointing results and finishing last in 2023, Steiner became the fall guy and team owner Gene Haas elected not to renew his contract.

Steiner was one of the main personalities in F1, having came to fame through the popular Drive to Survive Netflix series. He was arguably one of the most popular figures within the paddock, although he gained some notoriety between the drivers for his ruthlessness.

There is no doubt that his departure from the team is felt behind the scenes, as newly installed Team Principal Ayao Komatsu calmed any expectations by claiming they would be "towards the back of the grid" in Bahrain.

But Steiner's departure could also create a rift behind the scenes, as those who believe in the project start to doubt whether they can improve their fortunes.

Hulkenberg: Steiner departure "will leave holes we will have to fill"

Nico Hulkenberg claimed that the news of him leaving the team was "surprising" when he first heard about it, revealing that he was partially responsible for his comeback to F1 in 2023.

The German driver had been dropped by Renault when they made the transition to Alpine at the end of 2020, having failed to deliver a podium for the team after three seasons with them.

A spell as reserve driver for Racing Paint and Aston Martin during the height of the COVID pandemic presented opportunities for Hulkenberg, but a race seat seemed out of the question once they elected to employ Fernando Alonso.

For Hulkenberg, the opportunity to replace Mick Schumacher for 2023 effectively saved his F1 career, which is why he feels the sense of "regret" over the decision made by Haas.

The team has historically struggled to keep up with the established midfield teams, and if their current car concept fails to deliver then it could lead to both Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen looking at other options if they feel its a lost cause.

Hulkenberg made the point that he felt Steiner's departure would "leave holes we will have to fill" which is less than ideal when they are amid a rebuilding phase. Their reaction to the results on track will be very telling, with Komatsu facing the challenge of galvanising the team while keeping their moral high.

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