Nico Hulkenberg thinks Haas is now fighting with Aston Martin and RB to be the fifth-fastest team in Formula 1 after what he calls a “hell of a comeback”.

An upgrade package introduced at last weekend’s British Grand Prix helped deliver an impressive step forward in pace for the American-owned squad, with Hulkenberg finishing sixth for the second consecutive weekend.

While Haas remains seventh in the constructors’ championship on 27 points, four points behind RB and 41 adrift of Aston Martin, Hulkenberg thinks that the balance of power on track has changed.

In particular, he thinks Haas has the chance to stake claim to be at the head of the chasing pack behind Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari.

Speaking after the British Grand Prix, he said: “It is obviously a nice, rewarding feeling to get eight points again, P6 two times in a row. It’s unexpected, but I think deserved. We worked for it. We stayed clean, no mistakes, good strategy. Very good.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-24, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR24, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-24, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR24, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“I think that the best of all, though, is the performance that we’ve had. The update really did something to the car, and I genuinely think we’re in the fight for fifth-fastest team now with sometimes Aston, sometimes Alpine, and sometimes some others maybe.

“I think we’re there. We have been pretty consistent this season and I think we can hang on to that.”

The progress of Haas has been impressive this season, especially considering that team principal Ayao Komatsu warned before the start of the campaign that the squad could be stuck at the back of the field.

But with the VF-24 proving to offer a solid baseline, and a run of upgrades having delivered the steps forward hoped for, it has turned out very different from the early pessimism.

On the team’s fortunes, Hulkenberg said: “Nobody expected it – even when we started it was better than the expectation. But we kept up with everyone, and did the same job, maybe even better.

“I think it’s also a little bit weekend-dependent and track-dependent, so we’ll have to wait and see but no, it’s definitely a hell of a comeback and a story.”

Watch: British GP Race Review – Hamilton Returns To The Top

While team-mate Kevin Magnussen’s British GP weekend was derailed by disappointment in qualifying that saw him start 17th and finish 12th, he still sees reason to be encouraged by the step from the upgrade package.

“I think it’s good,” he said. “To put an upgrade on the car and see it score points in the first race, of course, it’s encouraging.

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“We know on paper it’s not night and day, but it’s in the details, right? So it’s also a testimony to the car overall that we have.

“We’ve put a little bit more performance on here, but without it, Nico would still have scored points. So, very encouraging and looking forward to more races.”