Nico Hulkenberg: a champion in waiting? Certainly a consistent, quick and capable driver; winning a race in every competition pre-Formula One and 3 championships – but the Formula one podium eludes him.
Born: 19/08/1987 in Emmerich am Rhein, West Germany.
Net Worth: $1.6 million
Nickname: The Hulk (so called because his personality changes when he’s behind the wheel)
“I won’t be the next Michael Schumacher or whatever. When I get to Formula One… I want to be the first Nico Hulkenberg.”
F1 RACING STATS:
Team: Force India-Mercedes.
Car number: 27
Grand Prix Starts: 109 (entries 111)
Career points: 336
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest laps: 2
Highest finish: 4th
Karting: Started karting in 1997 aged 10.
2002: Hulkenberg became German Junior Karting champion.
2003: Became German Karting champion. 16 years earlier Michael Schumacher had done the same. Schumacher’s old manager Willi Weber signed Hulkenberg.
2004: Won the Italian Junior Championship.
2005: Hulkenberg won the German Formula BMW Series, racing for Josef Kaufmann. It was a very comfortable win with 8 wins out of 20. Vettel had won this series the year before.
2006: Won the A1GP for Team Germany, after dominating the competition. He won 9 races and took the title for Team Germany almost single-handedly, becoming the most successful driver in the series history over a single season. He competed in the German Formula 3 series; achieving 1 win and 5 podiums.
2007: Hulkenberg finished 3rd in the Formula 3 Euroseries, with 4 wins and 72 points. In the Formula Masters race at Zolder he won by 6 seconds. He had a 2 day test with Williams Formula One at the Circuit de Jerez in Spain and set lap times 0.4 seconds slower than Nico Rosberg; prompting Williams to sign him as a test driver.
2008: Won the Formula 3 Euroseries; with 85 points, 7 wins, 7 fastest laps and 6 poles. Made his debut in the 3rd round of the GP2 Asia Series for the ART Grand Prix – taking pole.
2009: Won the GP2 series in his rookie season – a feat only matched by Hamilton and Rosberg. He dominated at the Nurburgring and won the title 25 points ahead of Vitaly Petrov and 64 ahead of team mate Pastor Maldonado. He moved to England and organised his own ‘work experience’ at William’s Grove Factory; determined to be part of Formula One.
2010: Formula One with Williams, alongside team mate Rubens Barrichello. At the Malaysian Grand Prix, he qualified 5th and came 10th. His best result was at the Hungarian Grand Prix, finishing in 6th place. He finished 14th in the drivers’ championship, with 7 points finishes.
2011: Lost his place at Williams to Pastor Maldonado. Became test driver at Force India.
2012: Racing with Force India. A 4th place in Belgium was his best result and he may have won in Brazil – were it not for the safety car coming out when he was leading. Finished 11th in the drivers’ championship, with 11 points finishes.
2013: Hulkenberg joined Sauber (after being linked with Ferrari). During the first half of the season his C32 car struggled; the second half was an improvement with 4th at the Korean Grand Prix and 5th in the Italian Grand Prix. He finished 10th in the drivers’ championship; with 10 points finishes.
2014: He returned to Force India (after being linked with Ferrari and Lotus).alongside team mate Sergio Perez. This proved an inspired move, as Hulkenberg scored points in all of the first 10 races – a record only matched by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. At one point he was 3rd in the championship behind Rosberg and Hamilton and finished 5th on 4 occasions. A sensational pass to overtake Kevin Magnussen at Portier in Monaco was a particular highlight. Finished 9th in the drivers’ championship, with 9 points finishes.
2015: Force India. Hulkenberg came 10th in the drivers’ championship, with 9 points finishes. Following a big crash in Hungary – he only finished 2 out of the next 6 races. Won Le Mans 24 hours race with Porsche.
2016: Currently in 9th place in the drivers’ championship, with 9 points finishes. His best result a 4th place at the Belgian Grand Prix. The podium continues to elude him.
Hulkenberg is to start the 2017 with Renault after announcing he would be leaving Force India this year. He believes Renault can be a contender in the future and has signed a 2 year deal with the Enstone-based team. “I’m very happy to join Renault Sport Formula One Team in 2017.”