Hülkenberg equals sad 30-year-old record

With 208 starts without the slightest podium or the slightest victory, Nico Hülkenberg holds the record for the longest drought for a Formula 1 driver. A look back at the 5 races where the German could have broken this curse.

Published on 23/04/2024 à 11:50

Gonzalo Forbes

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Hülkenberg equals sad 30-year-old record

208 starts in F1 and still no podium or victory. © DPPI

On the occasion of the Chinese Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg equaled a sad record held by Andrea de Cesaris: that of the greatest number of Grands Prix without having tasted victory (208 starts). Already the record holder for the longest drought without a podium, the German will, very probably in Miami, become the one and only holder of this record. Focus on the 5 moments where the 36-year-old driver didn't come far from getting on the famous box.

Brazil 2010 – From pole position to (logical) collapse

Perhaps one of the least expected pole positions of the season, but also of recent years. On the drying Interlagos track, Nico Hülkenberg did well to take everyone by surprise. Placed in the right place at the right time, the German took the first, and so far only, pole position of his career. The start of a great adventure? That's what everyone thought but the man who won GP2 on his first attempt the previous year was never able to confirm all the hopes placed in him.

As for the race, there were no surprises unlike his pole position. Quickly overtaken by Sebastian Vettel when the lights went out, went wide at turn 4 and was dropped off by Mark Webber, the one who represented Williams at the time did not hold up. He still took the checkerboard at 8e position. Perhaps the most he could hope for.

Nico Hülkenberg's surprise pole in Brazil in 2010. © ERIC VARGIOLU / DPPI

Belgium 2012 – At the foot of the podium

After a season spent on the sidelines, Nico finds F1 under the colors of Force India. This time, the German-speaking seems better prepared and fights regularly for units culminating in an encouraging 5e place at the European Grand Prix in Valencia. But it was at Spa-Francorchamps where Hülkenberg came close to finally tasting champagne.

Part 11e, he took advantage of the departure pileup caused by Romain Grosjean who took away among other things Fernando Alonso et Lewis Hamilton, but also the stolen departure of Pastor Maldonado to move up the hierarchy. As the laps go by, he appears to be a serious contender for the podium. It will also be there throughout this Belgian Grand Prix. Unfortunately, he fell just over two seconds short of finishing third.e place for Kimi Räikkönen and his Lotus.

The Belgian GP almost was his first podium. ©ALEXANDRE GUILLAUMOT / DPPI

South Korea 2013 – So close yet so far

New season, new team. This time it is with Sauber that he stands out where he replaced Sergio Pérez, who left for McLaren after the departure of Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes.

In these last years of the thermal era, the cars of the Swiss team sometimes create surprises like the podiums of Sergio Pérez and Kamui Kobayashi the previous season (Canada, Italy and Japan). At Yeongam, the Sauber C32 is on pace and allows Nico Hülkenberg to believe in a first appearance in the Top 3. Alas, another “failure” for the native of Emmerich am Rhein who takes the checkerboard in 4e place. This time with fewer regrets than in Belgium a year before since he finished almost 20 seconds behind 3e, Romain Grosjean.

Nico Hülkenberg believed in the podium in South Korea. © FREDERIC LE FLOCH / DPPI

Belgium 2016 – When it doesn't want, it doesn't want

The links between Force India and Spa-Francorchamps have always been very strong. It is here that the Indian team won its first, and only, pole position thanks to Giancarlo Fisichella in 2009. In addition, the cars from Vijay Mallya's team have often performed well there.

And in this year 2016, the VJM09 was no exception to the rule. Like his teammate at the time, Sergio Pérez, Nico Hülkenberg is also having a good weekend. In the race, he placed himself in the leading group and even in second place behind Nico Rosberg. Returned to third after the pit stops following the exit of the track Kevin Magnussen (Renault), the German was then unable to do anything when Lewis Hamilton attacked him in the 18the round. Too fair to respond to the Briton, Hülkenberg clung to this 4e a place that he kept until the end in front of his garage neighbor Sergio Pérez. Once again, it didn't go far.

Nico Hülkenberg could not resist the attacks of Lewis Hamilton. © Frederic Le Floc'h / DPPI

England 2020 – Almost glorious return

Called to the rescue by Racing Point (formerly Force India) when Sergio Pérez contracts Covid-19 in the middle of a pandemic, Nico Hülkenberg stands out during the double header at Silverstone. Although he was unable to start the British Grand Prix due to a technical problem with his car, he distinguished himself with a 3e place in qualifying the following weekend, during the GP du 70e birthday.

Nicknamed the “pink Mercedes”, his RP20 finally seems to be the car that will give him his first podium in F1 after 178 starts. Always not. Forced to pass a 3e once in the pits to put on soft tires after a strong deterioration in his previous stint, Nico Hülkenberg came out 7e and said goodbye to his hopes of the first bottle of champagne with 17 laps to go.

Perhaps the best car of his career. Unfortunately, he only made substitutions. © DPPI

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Gonzalo Forbes

In charge of promotion formulas (F2, F3, FRECA, F4...). Carried by the grace of Franco Colapinto.

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