Former Red Bull engineer Blake Hinsey believes Haas’ decision to give Nico Hulkenberg a full-time seat is a “really weird appointment”.
During his absence from F1, Hulkenberg was often seen as one of the most popular drivers amongst fans and many were eager to see him get a seat at a midfield team.
Haas had the option of offering Mick Schumacher an extension, but instead decided to offer a role to the “solid and reliable racer” Hulkenberg, who will line up alongside Kevin Magnussen next season.
Hulkenberg has been on the fringes of F1 for a couple of seasons, but hadn’t been able to secure a full-time role till the Haas deal materialised.
Hinsey, who worked with Hulkenberg at Force India, is not sure if Haas has made the most prudent decision in its appointment.
“I like Niko, because he was on the other car when I was at Force India,” he said.
“He’s a good driver. Is he going to be better in two years than Mick would be in two years? I have no idea. And that’s super hard to tell!
“It seems like Mick didn’t really push. He was just really finding his feet and had a couple of moments in the middle of the season where you’re like, ‘Alright, alright’, but now it’s super hard to say.
“It’s a really weird appointment and I think it doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Hinsey may feel that the team should have stuck with Mick, but Haas certainly saw more value in giving Hulkenberg a chance.
The upcoming season will be Hulkenberg’s first full season of racing since 2019.
As far as Hinsey is concerned, Hulkenberg might find himself out of his depth against Magnussen.
“I think [it’s] a very interesting appointment,” he said.
“Is he going to do well? I think so. He’ll do all right.
“Is Kevin going to smash him up? Maybe.”
However, Hinsey does believe that the Netflix docu-series Drive to Survive would do well to follow these two drivers very closely as it will present plenty of drama.
“It’s going to be an interesting dynamic at Haas with those two. There was, in the past, a very interesting exchange of words between the two when they drove for different teams,” he said.
“Don’t let the Drive To Survive cameras in!”