The career of Nico Hulkenberg is at the same time a very beautiful one, but also a disappointing one. The German started 179 Grands Prix, but never managed to reach the podium despite periods with Williams, Force India, Sauber, Racing Point and Renault.
In the end Hulkenberg never managed to force a spot with a top team, but things could have turned out differently.
The day that could have changed everything
Hulkenberg’s career is also one of the missed opportunities. One such opportunity was in Brazil, in 2012. It was the last race of the season and everything was on the line for the title contenders.
The race at Interlagos was full of spectacle. Not only was it Michael Schumacher’s last race, the exciting title battle between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso also came to a wonderful climax.
But it was also the race that perhaps Nico Hulkenberg should have won, or at the very least, should have finished on the podium. The German qualified seventh, but managed to work his way up the front in the rain-plagued race.
Crazy Brazilian GP
When much of the field pitted for wet tires, Hulkenberg stayed out, as did Jenson Button. The rest went back in not much later for dry weather tires and the duo in front, with The Hulk led, at one point was a minute ahead of the rest, until a safety car came onto the track.
The field was then close together again, but Hulkenberg remained in the lead. After a mistake on lap 48 Hamilton was able to overtake him, but the Force India driver did not give up. Six laps later he tried to retake the lead from the Briton, but again made a mistake. .
He lost control of his car and slid into Hamilton’s side. The result: a broken McLaren for Lewis and a lot of time loss plus a drive through penalty for Hulkenberg. In the end he finished fifth, five seconds behind the winner of the race.
And oh yes, the title went to Vettel after a crazy battle, who was tapped in the round in the opening lap and was last. Alonso eventually came three points short to capture his third title. Button won the race.
Incidentally, Formula 1 put the summary of this race on YouTube during the first corona lockdown last year. This can be found here.
my heart was bleeding
Years later, Hulkenberg says a win in Brazil could have changed his career forever. “Probably. When I returned to the race my heart was bleeding. I was 50 seconds ahead at one point. It was a special day, a special race from a young Hulk. One for the history books.”
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