In the four seasons that Nico Hulkenberg has raced in Formula 1, he is yet to step up on the podium to drink the champagne (or apple juice/rosewater) and kiss the trophy presented to the top three finishers. In the six years he has spent in Formula 1, the one moment of glory still remaining fresh on his mind is the 2011 pole position in Brazil for Williams, in his first F1 season.
Since that moment, the German driver has been on a big chase to get his first podium finish. He came close to finishing on the rostrum at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012, only to run into Lewis Hamilton in damp conditions in the closing stages of the race.
His next opportunity arose at this year's Bahrain Grand Prix. But fate had something else in store and it was Sergio Perez that took third at the chequered flag. Looking back at the season, the 27 year old admitted that this was his one and only chance to score a podium “The only opportunity was in Bahrain and there I missed it.” He now has to wait until next season to get another shot.
He was also not too happy with how Force India and he himself fared in the second half of the 2014 season. When asked if he was disappointed, he said, “Obviously, a little bit disappointed that we brought upgrades, but that didn’t deliver what they promised and of course, it is bit of disappointed that we start very strong with lot of points and then you fall of, you get overtaken race after race but you know that’s life, we have get on with it and feel proud of what we gave.”
Having confirmed his 2015 drive, he sounded relaxed going into the new season. It was an easy decision to make as he stated, “I had only Sahara Force India on my mind but also there were not a lot of other option.”
While Daniil Kvyat has got a chance to drive for a four times world champion team in only his second season in Formula 1, Nico Hulkenberg remains detained in the upper midfield, despite spending four impressive years. Despite the situation he finds himself in, he was not ready to reveal his plans for 2016 and beyond just yet. When asked if he will ever drive for a big team, he said, “I don’t know, for next year it is unlikely, but after that there might be a chance, maybe yes, maybe no, nobody knows.”
Whether he will race at the sharp end of the grid in the future, it remains to be seen. But he will surely get behinds the wheels of the Porsche 919 Hbyrid in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 6 Hours of Spa in the 2015 World Endurance Championship. He just might score a podium there.
by Darshan Chokhani