Helmut Marko has nailed his colours to the Nico Hulkenberg mast in predicting who will fill the only remaining F1 seat next year.
That cockpit is with Haas, who are taking their time over announcing whether Mick Schumacher will continue to partner Kevin Magnussen in 2023.
With Antonio Giovinazzi seemingly having ruled himself out of contention by crashing early in an FP1 guest appearance at the United States Grand Prix, it looks to be a straight fight between Schumacher and Hulkenberg.
Schumacher has spent two seasons with Haas but delivered points on only two occasions, both this summer, since when his progress has levelled off.
Team principal Guenther Steiner has been deliberating whether to give the 23-year-old one more campaign to start fulfilling his Formula 2 title-winning potential, or go with the experience offered by Schumacher’s older compatriot Hulkenberg.
Red Bull adviser Marko expects the 35-year-old former Williams, Sauber, Force India and Renault man to get the nod, not least because he thinks the writing was on the wall for Schumacher when he was rebuked by Steiner for the number of crashes he has had this season in particular.
“When a team publicly criticises a driver so massively, as was sometimes the case, it shows there is no sign of trust,” Marko told German broadcaster ntv.
“The situation at Haas is they have an experienced driver in Magnussen and if there was a great up-and-coming talent, I would bet on him.
“But I don’t see anyone at the moment who would have these requirements. And from a team perspective, there’s a lot of money at stake in the Constructors’ World Championship.
“Whether you’re tenth or eighth, that’s a difference of millions of dollars. I assume Haas will bet on a veteran.”
Hulkenberg has spent the last three seasons as reserve driver for Racing Point/Aston Martin and fulfilling a punditry role with the Austrian TV station owned by Red Bull.
“It would be a shame for Servus TV,” added Marko. “On the other hand, Hulkenberg has proven he can jump into a car as a reserve driver without any test kilometres – into the cold water, so to speak – and always deliver. That speaks volumes for him.”
Schumacher’s future would be uncertain in the event of him being dislodged from Haas, especially as he is also set to leave the Ferrari Driver Academy.
But one opportunity that could open up is with Audi, who are joining forces with Sauber from 2026 and could represent Schumacher’s way back onto the grid in the medium term or perhaps sooner.
“In 2024, a few places will become available as contracts expire,” added Marko.
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