Nico Hulkenberg

1. 1. Who is Nico Hülkenberg?

Nico Hülkenberg is a German pilot. He was born on August 19, 1987 in Emmerich am Rhein (Germany). He is currently a Formula 1 driver for the Haas F1 Team.

Nico Hülkenberg finds a starting role after three seasons on the sidelines / © DPPI

2. Nico Hülkenberg’s junior journey

Nico Hülkenberg's motorsport career began in karting in 1997. The young German driver quickly gained ground and won several races across Europe: he became Italian Junior Champion in 2001 and 2002, then Champion of Germany in 2002 among juniors and in 2003 among seniors.

Nico Hülkenberg made his single-seater debut two years later, with a participation in the Formula BMW ADAC championship, which he won in his first year. His agent Willi Weber, then manager of Michael Schumacher, compared the young German talent to the seven-time Formula 1 world champion.

The successes continued with the title in A1 Grand Prix, with 9 successes in 20 races contested, then in Formula 3 Euro Series the following year with ART Grand Prix. At the start of 2009, he completed four races in the GP2 Asia Series, including a victory in Qatar.

Hülkenberg dominated the GP2 Series in 2009 / © DPPI

At 21, Nico Hülkenberg arrives in the antechamber of Formula 1: the GP2 Series, still with ART Grand Prix. Despite his rookie status, he impresses with his progress throughout the season.

Despite a hesitant start in the series, the young German established himself as one of the leaders of the championship. After two first podiums at Monaco and Silverstone, he won three races in a row, first at home at the Nürburgring then in Hungary.

Taking advantage of the departure of his main opponent Romain Grosjean, promoted to Formula 1 at Renault, Hülkenberg won the title thanks to two new successes in Valencia and Portimão. Crowned in his first year in the GP2 Series, his performance will be sufficient to give him access to Formula 1.

3. 3. Nico Hülkenberg’s F1 journey

Nico Hülkenberg's story with Formula 1 began in 2007. His manager, Willi Weber, reached an agreement with Williams to carry out some tests in Jérez. The German impresses since he is faster than Kazuki Nakajima, who is neither more nor less than the titular driver! Williams recruited him to be a test driver in 2008 and 2009. His two titles in F3 Euro Series and GP2 Series ended up convincing the Grove team, who signed him as a starting driver for 2010.

First season in F1 and first pole, at Interlagos, with Williams / © DPPI

Nico Hülkenberg's first season in F1 is mixed. With a complicated start to the championship for him and despite some successes (including a 5th place in qualifying in Malaysia), he only managed to score one point in the first 9 Grands Prix. The native of Emmerich managed to turn the situation around during the second part of the season, with 6 points finishes in the last 10 races.

Highlight of his season: a sensational pole position won in Brazil, during a session affected by rain. Thanks to his pole, Hülkenberg ends a 5-year drought for Williams in qualifying. Unfortunately, this feat will not be enough for him to keep his seat for 2011, Frank Williams' team preferring Pastor Maldonado and his sponsors.

Very quickly, the promising Nico Hülkenberg found refuge with another team: Force India. With the starting places already assigned to Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, the German remains on the sidelines in 2011, as a reserve driver.

A season of waiting before his promotion to the 2nd Indian seat for 2012, alongside Di Resta. His talent came to light that year: more efficient than his Scottish teammate, Nico Hülkenberg produced solid performances in his modest Force India. He notably finished in the top 8 eight times, with a 4th place as his best performance, at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Hülkenberg was in contention for a podium, or even victory, at the 2012 Brazilian GP / © DPPI

The highlight of the 2012 year, however, remains the Brazilian Grand Prix: 6th on the grid, he took advantage of the changing conditions to take the lead after 20 laps. Fighting with the McLarens for victory, he collided with Lewis Hamilton when the rear of Hülkenberg's car slipped while trying to pass him at turn 1. Ultimately, the German finished 5th, letting his first victory slip away in race and his first podium. Nevertheless, this allowed him to take 11th place in the drivers' championship with 63 points, 17 units better than his teammate.

After shining in the middle of the peloton, Nico Hülkenberg was recruited by Sauber in 2013, a team which achieved several podiums the previous season. But the Sauber C32 proved less competitive than its predecessor and the German's hopes of a podium were almost dashed. The Sauber driver scored 51 points and finished 10th in the championship, with his best result another 4th place in South Korea.

For the new era of the V6 Turbo Hybrid, Nico Hülkenberg returns to Force India alongside Sergio Pérez. With a Mercedes engine well above the rest, the team has had a great start to the season. For Hülkenberg, the results are solid: ten points finishes in the first ten Grands Prix, and a total of fifteen top 10s in 19 races. The German has finally found the consistency he lacked so much, including four finishes in 5th place, often behind the untouchable Mercedes and Red Bull. With 96 points scored (compared to 59 for Pérez), in 2014 he achieved his best season since his debut in F1.

Return to Force India between 2014 and 2016 / © DPPI

Unfortunately, the promises of 2014 did not materialize in subsequent seasons. The top teams having taken the measure of the new engines, Force India stagnates in the hierarchy as simply being “the best of the others”. Above all, Nico Hülkenberg loses consistency and is dominated by Sergio Pérez. In 2015, after a difficult start to the year (6 points only from the first 6 Grands Prix), the German only scored 58 points, the victim of several retirements due to accidents. The 2016 season is slightly better: despite a sluggish start to the season, the native of Emmerich am Rhein finished on good notes and concluded the year with 72 points. Although he performed well in qualifying, notably with a front row finish in Austria, his pace in the race was less good and the German was lagging behind his teammate, who scored 3 podiums in 2015 and 2016.

Still without a podium in F1 and blocked by a glass ceiling at Force India, Nico Hülkenberg decides to change scenery and sign with a factory team: Renault. The French manufacturer, who returned to Formula 1 the previous season, hired the German to carry out its project. He was associated with Jolyon Palmer in 2017. In a team still under construction, Nico Hülkenberg scored 43 points, much more than his teammate (14 points) and with great promise for the future. The Renault performed well in the second half of the season, to the point of being “the best of the others” on several occasions.

Three seasons at Renault will not give him the much-desired F1 podium / © DPPI

In 2018, Carlos Sainz joined Nico Hülkenberg at Renault. With a much more efficient RS18, the German regularly finished in the top 10. Despite 7 retirements during the season, he finished in 7th place in the championship – his best ranking in Formula 1 at the moment – ​​with 69 points. But the relationship with Renault began to crumble: certain errors by Hülkenberg cost the French team points, battling against Haas throughout the season. Above all, after 8 full seasons in F1, the GP2 Series champion has still not scored a single podium, a record in the discipline (held until now by Adrian Sutil with 128 GPs without a podium).

In 2019, Nico Hülkenberg faced a strong opponent at Renault: Daniel Ricciardo, then a 7-time Grand Prix winner. His future at Enstone depends on his season against the Australian. The RS19 proved less competitive and less reliable, and the German's start to the season suffered, with only 6 points in the first six races. In Germany, for his home Grand Prix, his fate with Renault took a new turn: then 2nd in a race disrupted by rain, he stupidly left the track in the same place as Charles Leclerc a few minutes before him. Another wasted chance of a podium is too much for Renault: the German, 14th in the championship with 37 points, is thanked by the French manufacturer.

Without a steering wheel for 2020, Nico Hülkenberg returns for the third time to Silverstone, with Racing Point (ex-Force India). As in 3, he is confined to the role of reserve driver. A position that lived up to its name that season, since in a season disrupted by Covid-2011, the German took the wheel three times to replace either Sergio Pérez or Lance Stroll. For his return to F19, after several months without driving, Hülkenberg achieved a resounding feat with a 1rd place in qualifying for the 3th anniversary Grand Prix! While he was on track to finish in 70th position, Hülkenberg suffered a high level of tire wear late in the race, forcing him to pit and finish 4th. At the Eifel Grand Prix, contested on the Nürburgring, the Racing Point driver came from last to 7th place at the finish, a magnificent performance which will be praised by the fans.

Hülkenberg will have played luxury freelancer between 2020 and 2022 / © DPPI

Nico Hülkenberg remains reserve driver after the takeover of Racing Point by Aston Martin. In 2022, he replaced Sebastian Vettel, affected by Covid-19, at the Grand Prix in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, without scoring a point. At the end of the year, Haas announced the signing of the German for the 2023 season, to replace his competitor Mick Schumacher. At 35, Nico Hülkenberg makes his return to the premier category alongside Kevin Magnussen.

4. Nico Hülkenberg’s journey in Endurance

In November 2014, Porsche announced the participation of Nico Hülkenberg in the 24 2015 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of a third factory Porsche 919 Hybrid. As preparation, the German is taking part in the Spa-Francorchamps round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC).

On June 14, 2015, aboard the No. 19 Porsche, Nico Hülkenberg won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, alongside Briton Nick Tandy and New Zealander Earl Bamber. The victory was Porsche's first overall victory in the event since the 24 1998 Hours of Le Mans. Hülkenberg's triumph made him the first active Formula One driver to win at Le Mans since Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot, who achieved the same feat in 1.

Victory at Le Mans for his only participation / © DPPI

5. 5. AUTOhebdo's opinion by Nico Hülkenberg

Nico Hülkenberg is the holder of a sad record that no one wants in F1: that of the driver with the most Grands Prix contested… without a podium. This reflects the German's career well: often performing well in qualifying, he never found the consistency or the racing rhythm to allow him to get this famous podium. Sometimes unlucky, sometimes guilty of gross errors, Nico Hülkenberg has never materialized all the promises made in his promotion formula. His victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans will remain the highlight of his career... unless he finally manages to achieve this long-awaited podium with Haas in 2023.

Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg
Country Flag_of_Germany
Ecurie HAAS
Age Aug 19, 1987 (36 year)

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