Nico Hülkenberg’s Formula 1 career probably ended in Abu Dhabi. For the time being, the German says goodbye to the pinnacle of racing with his record: No driver has ever completed more F1 Grands Prix starts without having been on the podium.
He has had the opportunity to do so several times – one race in particular is following him in this respect.
This is, of course, the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012, when he could have won the race for Force India before a collision with Lewis Hamilton tore him away from his dreams. “That was the day,” he sighs. “Before the safety car, I was leading by 50 seconds. It was a special race, a special day, a very young Hulk.”
But in the end, it became a painful memory.
“I was just tuning in, when this very race came on,” the German said. “I was leading and watched it again. My heart was bleeding…”
Hülkenberg was lying on his bed watching classic races on Sky F1.
Hülkenberg could imagine that his career would have gone differently if he had won the race. “But it’s hard to say,” he says.
Now he says it is “a fact” that he will leave Formula One without a podium. “I’m not bitter about it, but of course I’d rather not have that. But there were always reasons and circumstances that prevented a podium finish.”
In general, Hülkenberg’s career probably remains unfinished. He admits that he didn’t always make the right decisions in Formula One – for instance when he switched to Sauber 2013: “Although we had a very good second half of the season, maybe this step wasn’t the right one in my career.”
But he doesn’t think too much about the past. “You have opportunities, miss them and just keep going. That’s life,” he waves off.
Of course, it’s not news that Nico has been replaced at Renault by Esteban Ocon and is without a driving seat for 2020. He still hopes his old team performs well and thinks that the 2021 rule changes could completely shake up the sport.
“Obviously, they still have a big challenge on their hands,
“With 2021 in mind a lot of things change and with 2020 they want to progress and get up the grid.
“This year was not a setback, but not the year we wanted and needed. So they have that challenge on their hands to bounce back from that and do better next year.
“There is going to be an interesting challenge and time ahead for them but I wish them luck and all the best.” concludes the German.