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Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg opens up on Audi expectations after dream move

Nico Hulkenberg has spoken for the first time about his upcoming move to Audi, with the German driver switching Haas for Stake F1 at the end of the 2024 season.

Hulkenberg Audi
To news overview © XPBimages

Nico Hulkenberg has spoken publicly for the first time since his move to Audi was confirmed, saying he went through "different periods" during his F1 hiatus and that he did not actively seek joining a German team.

The 36-year-old will leave Haas at the end of the current season, joining Stake F1 for 2025 before the Sauber entry's transition to Audi is complete for the start of 2026, which is also the dawn of a new era of F1 regulations.

At the end of 2019, the German's F1 career looked to be as good as said and done after being dropped by Renault.

"I think it was different periods I was going through," he replied when asked by RacingNews365 at the Miami Grand Prix if he always had belief he would get back to a top seat in F1, or if he ever felt like it would not happen.

"There was weeks where I wasn't really thinking about it, because I was happy where I was, and I wasn't spending too much time and energy on thinking about that, and trying to predict or steer my future. It was just going with the flow and enjoying life.

"And then there was other periods where it was a bit more driven, trying to look for opportunities, wanting to sort out my future. But I think that time for me was just very good to disconnect from from motorsport.

"I have done the F1 time, but all these years in juniors and karting as well. It adds up to quite quite a bit - two decades or more. So it was just nice to explore normal life to really refresh, reset, and then yeah, that feeling, that hunger came back by itself, and the rest is history."

Did not actively seek driving for a German team

Following three seasons deputising for Racing Point and Aston Martin drivers, he returned full-time to F1 at the start of 2023, impressing immediately alongside Kevin Magnussen at Haas.

That form made him a strong candidate for Audi. In Hulkenberg, the team getting a marketable driver known for strong set-up and car development feedback - and who also has the right passport. However, that is a "secondary" factor to the 36-year-old.

"It's a fact, but that's secondary, and that's just a side-effect," he said when asked about the pressure of driving for a German manufacturer and if it was something he sought out, before adding he felt the Audi switch was the best option available to him.

"It's not that I was specifically looking for that. As a driver, you always look for what you believe is the best sporting package and opportunity for you in the future - I think for me that [Audi] is the one."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying