Nico Hülkenberg’ story in Formula 1 is incredible, sometimes sad, but at the same time his racing career inspiring in terms to never give up. With his racing experiences, Hulkenberg seems to know each one in Formula 1, as he managed to race alongside the most of the drivers at the grid. Without any victories, Nico Hülkenberg forced to leave F1 racing after ten years of participating. But he didn’t lose the time and fit the coming opportunities. Despite the racing results, Nico Hülkenberg is a well role model.
How Nico Hülkenberg got started in Formula 1?
Nico Hülkenberg’s career in Formula 1 started with the F1 car back in 2007, when after a failed to deal with Renault boss Flavio Briatore, his manager Willi Weber organised for him a two-day test at Jerez. The German F1 driver had worked a few years as a reserve driver before racing for Williams in 2010 alongside Rubens Barrichello.
After the 2010 F1 season ended, Hülkenberg’s contract was also finished, and he joined for two years racing for one of the controversial F1 team – Force India. He spent 2010 on the bench before racing alongside Paul di Resta the following season. Hülkenberg’s results, however, were not impressive when compared to his teammates’ performance. Thus, his most impressive finish was a sixth place in Belgium and first ever pole at the rainy qualifying Brazilian Grand Prix.
He spent the next season with another team. In 2013, he joined Sauber and failed the first race of the season – the Australian GP. Technical problems, incidents are what he forced to struggle before returning to Force India to race alongside Sergio Perez for 2014 – 2016 seasons.
Renault Formula 1 team lost hopes, while Hülkenberg a seat.
His results improved and the German F1 driver completed the championship in the top ten in the ninth position. That was enough, and the Renault F1 team announced Nico Hülkenberg alongside Jolyon Palmer for 2017. For 2019, Carlos Sainz replaced Palmer, and Daniel Ricciardo became another Renault teammate for Hülkenberg. Cyril Abiteboul team principal at the time considered the driver pairing “one of the strongest – if not the strongest – line-ups on the grid.”
The results, however, contradicted that theory. Hülkenberg finished the 2019 season in 14th place – the cheapest result since his debut season in 2010. He scored 37 points across the season, 17 less than teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
That is how Nico Hülkenberg lost his Formula 1 seat. And after ten seasons of Formula 1 racing, German driver announced in October 2020 that he would be leaving the sport. He had not been able to find a competitive drive and was heavily linked with returning to Haas for 2021. However, his seat went to Mick Schumacher instead. Nico Hülkenberg left Formula 1 with no wins or podiums.
After spending ten years without any victory, Nico Hülkenberg holds the record as the most expensive F1 racer without a win. To make a point and forget about F1 racing, that was good enough. But Hülkenberg had searched for the brand-new racing calls, however these were unsuccesses.
Nico Hülkenberg’s best finishes in Formula 1
He holds the Formula 1 record for most Grand Prix starts without a podium finish with about 200 starts. His best result was three times P4: two in Belgium 2012, 2016 and the Korean GP in 2013.
Nico Hülkenberg and IndyCar’s chapter in his racing career
At the end of 2021, Hülkenberg took part in a private IndyCar test at Barber Motorsports Park. With a McLaren SP car he completed over 100 laps and set a best time of 77.454 seconds in his first test, roughly a second off the fastest time, which was set by 2021 Indy Lights runner-up David Malukas. Thus, AMSP team principal Taylor Kiel stated that Hülkenberg was in consideration for a third part-time entry in 2022.
But Hülkenberg ultimately declined an opportunity to pursue a career in IndyCar with McLaren. He was unwilling to race on ovals and that he found the Dallara DW12 to be significantly more difficult to drive physically than the F1 cars he was used to. However, that wasn’t the last time he experienced other racing disciplines cars.
24 Hours of Le Mans
As part of the FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship) in 2015, he raced a Porsche 919 Hybrid in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber Hülkenberg won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
They completed 395 laps, one lap ahead of the car of their Porsche teammates Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, who took second place. This win was Porsche’s first overall victory in the event since the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Hülkenberg’s triumph made him the first active Formula One driver to win at Le Mans since Johnny Herbert before Fernando Alonso repeated the success twice. The Spaniard won Le Mans 24 hours in 2018 and 2019.
Re-Emerging in Formula 1 or Nico Hülkenberg’s freelancing.
After losing his place at Renault for the 2020 Formula 1 season, Nico’s phone was always in “on” mode. What made Nico Hülkenberg such a hotness was that he was sitting with friends over a cup of coffee when Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer called. He finished the call without hurrying, got into the car, and drove to the track with the same face as he had just finished his coffee, as if it was nothing unusual!
A part-time job on the 2020 Silverstone Grand Prix
Thus, Hülkenberg replaced Sergio Perez at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix 2020 after the Mexican tested positive for COVID-19. Next 24 hours after a call from the team, Hülkenberg got on the plane to England. He sat down in the seat, got into the simulator for an hour, and took to the track with the Racing Point race car.
Due to a late technical defect in his Racing Point car, Nico Hülkenberg did not compete at the British Grand Prix 2020
Eifel Grand Prix 2020 offer
In this situation, one in two freelancers would take the time to think about too many expensive steps the next time the boss called. Starting the Eifel Grand Prix without the same practice as the current F1 drivers was challenging. Nico Hülkenberg managed to make the whole thing wild! He hadn’t 24 hours, only a few at that point.
Racing Point driver Lance Stroll was too weak to take part in practice on Saturday morning. Hülkenberg’s participation was only confirmed half an hour before qualifying for the Formula 1 Eifel Grand Prix.
Despite being a part-time F1 driver, Nico Hülkenberg finished Eifel Grand Prix 2020 in eighth place. As a result, the F1 community started calling Hülkenberg “Hulk”.
Bahrain Grand Prix 2022.
Bahrain Grand Prix 2022 was one of the best F1 races of recent time. Aston Martin Team (previously Racing Point) signed Hülkenberg as a reserve and development driver for the 2021 season. With continuing as the reserve driver in 2022, he replaced Sebastian Vettel at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix after Vettel tested positive for COVID-19.
Hülkenberg started and finished the race in 17th place.
2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix offer
However, the German F1 driver returned to Aston Martin in the following race, as Sebastian Vettel hadn’t recovered yet. Despite failing Saturday’s qualifying, Hülkenberg started the Saudi Arabian GP in 17th and finished in 12th place.
Nico Hülkenberg didn’t always score points for the team, but he always took the wheel, even if the issue revolved around taking wheel for the next few hours. In addition to his career as a Formula 1 reserve driver, Hülkenberg was also a sports pundit. However, he has always dreamed of racing in Formula 1 – the sport he loves. The 2023 F1 season made it a reality.
Refusing to Give Up Despite Adversity.
Nico Hülkenberg proved that dedicated work, determination, and a refusal to give up will eventually pay off. Thus, when there was no seat for him in Haas for the 2020 season, as they signed Mick Schumacher, the 2023 Formula 1 season changed the ‘Hulk’ back.
And Nico Hülkenberg is officially coming back to Formula 1 as a full-time driver with Haas in 2023. While Schumacher was forced to leave the team after spending 3 seasons on the sidelines.
Hülkenberg and Magnusen
Having Kevin Magnussen become his new teammate is remarkable. However, both drivers had difficult relations following the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix. The pair were battling for position when Magnussen forced Hülkenberg’s Renault off the road. The Haas driver was subsequently fined for the move.
After the flag, Magnussen was in the middle of an interview with Danish TV when Hülkenberg approached, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “Once again the most unsporting driver on the grid.” Magnussen immediately replied in a very rude manner.
As time passed, they “broke the ice” six years after the incident. This is a very explosive crew for the Haas F1 team, whether that’s true or not. However, all of that is the headache of Gunter Steiner.
Nico Hülkenberg is back in Formula 1 despite the circumstances and doesn’t care what other people think about him. Despite someone mocking him at the grid because of his results in the career, it doesn’t bother him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be who he is.
What makes sense the most is that Nico Hülkenberg showed that despite difficult times, there is always an opportunity to succeed if you stay focused and don’t give up.