Haas not ready to extend Magnussen’s contract
"Kevin knows that he has to catch up with Nico"
As Nico Hulkenberg cruises towards a new contract with Haas, the American team is not quite ready to decide if Kevin Magnussen will also stay in 2024.
Team owner Gene Haas is making a rare paddock visit this weekend in Hungary, with team boss Gunther Steiner admitting a new deal for new arrival Hulkenberg, 35, is on the cards.
"Maybe there is no deal to be done?" Hulkenberg, with a new bleached hairstyle, smiled in Hungary. "Maybe a deal is in place? Who knows?
"I think it works both ways at the moment, and I’m enjoying myself. So there’s no reason not to think why the relationship shouldn’t continue like this," he added.
Haas brought Hulkenberg back to Formula 1 after his forced three-year break, while Dane Magnussen, 30, has been with the team almost from the beginning.
However, Steiner and Haas do not seem ready to renew the similarly-expiring deal with Magnussen, whose wife gave birth to their second daughter last week.
When asked about Magnussen’s future, Steiner said: "We have to see about that."
However, he says he is "actually satisfied" with both Haas drivers, even though Hulkenberg has been more impressive in 2023.
"Logically, Kevin knows that he has to catch up with Nico," said Steiner. "At the moment Nico is just better. Kevin has no problem admitting that either."
Steiner says it caught both Magnussen and Haas by surprise that Hulkenberg settled in so well.
"Nico is an asset to him," he said. "If things don’t go well for Kevin, he can see how things can be.
"This year Kevin took over the setup from Nico a couple of times," Steiner revealed. "He said ’I’ve had enough of trying things, I’ll just take Nico’s. And most of the time it worked out."
For his part, Magnussen admits that negotiations with Steiner are now looming.
"We communicate all the time," he said. "Both me and Gunther know that my contract expires at the end of the year, so of course there will be negotiations.
"When they will take place or whether they are happening already is not something I will expand on before something concrete appears. But if I want to race next year, then I need to sign a new contract," Magnussen added.
"I’m not too worried about this, since there were no problems with it before."
An early rumour is that Haas might be taking a look at Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou, who - unlike Magnussen - brings a reported EUR 20 million in Chinese backing to his team.
Magnussen, meanwhile, denied that becoming a father may have slowed him down.
"I can understand why it was like that when Niki Lauda was driving," he told Ekstra Bladet newspaper. "The danger was a completely different aspect then.
"There is still an element of danger now, but it’s not something I think about," the 30-year-old insisted. "I still feel young and our family works well with my schedule.
"They come to quite a few races, and since my children are young, they don’t have to go to school yet. I think I still have a few years left in me."