Hulkenberg heading into three months of ‘hardcore preparation’

Nico Hulkenberg says his first test day with Haas this week showed him he needs three months of “hardcore preparation” ahead of 2023.

The German was named as Mick Schumacher’s replacement for next season last week and got his first taste of the current Haas car during the post-season test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. After completing 110 laps, Hulkenberg admitted he was starting to feel the physical demands after three years away from regular competition and knows he has work to do ahead of his full-time return.

“It’s not just the neck, it’s the body, too – the glutes have to work a lot,” Hulkenberg said. “It was hard, tough, was feeling some human degradation towards the end of the day, but that was to be expected. I coped better than I expected to be honest, so that’s good. Three months of hardcore preparation now.

“It’s obviously good, it does remind you and show you the intensity these cars have, then you add the race and the competition it’s another story again. I have a plan and I know what I have to do.”

From a team integration standpoint, Hulkenberg said the chance to spend a full day getting used to the team’s procedures and his comfort in the car was also an invaluable experience.

“It’s a lot of the basics that you can sort out or identify and try and fix for next year, which just saves time that once you get going you can focus on the performance,” he said.

“It’s not about lap time. The basics, the comfort that happens, but the important stuff is performance, stuff you identify (that’s good), where can we do better, how can we go faster, pinpoint that and work with the engineers to find ways and solutions on that. Obviously next year it’s a new car so the cards will be shuffled again a bit, so we’ll see what we get once we get working.”