Perhaps surprisingly given his longevity in the sport, Hulkenberg never scored a podium during his tenure in F1. While a depressing statistic, however, the German says he has no regrets regarding the record, as he sees no point in getting upset.
He feels it would be more productive to move forward and leave it in the past rather than dwell on something which he cannot undo. Reflecting on his last year in 2019 with Renault and also the record he has of the driver with most races and no podium, he stated:
“I have no frustrations with the season, I can see why it didn’t happen, part of it why it didn’t click and I am cool with it, not bitter about it,” he said. “Regarding no podium, it is obviously a fact and that is what it is. I am not bitter about that one [as well].
“Of course I would not like to have that but there were some reasons and circumstances always that prevented the podium. That’s the way it is. I don’t think much on it, you have opportunities and if you don’t succeed in that, you move on.
“I’m not the guy who says ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ because it has gone. It happened, it’s the way it is. You have to learn from it. At some point, you need to close that chapter, move on and try to do better [in whatever you are doing next].
“Of course there are situations if I were to relive them, which I would do differently. But overall, I’m happy. I’m not bitter. I would have loved to have a couple of podiums or victories to my name. But I was never fortunate enough to be in a top car.”
Despite the unfortunate F1 record though, Hulkenberg did have many near misses, most notably the 2012 Brazil GP with Force India – a race which he led with ease until a safety car brought the field closer, shortly before he collected Lewis Hamilton in a crash.
While he normally doesn’t keep things on his mind, that missed opportunity still haunts him to this day. “Ironically, I was in bed watching Sky classic races between Brazil and Abu Dhabi, and I just tuned in and it’s that race [on TV],” said Hulkenberg.
“I’m leading and I watched it all over again and my heart was bleeding. That was the day. I mean, before the safety car I was leading by 50 seconds. So that was a special race, a special day, a very young Hulk. That was one of the special drives from the history books.”
His former boss at Force India (now Racing Point), Otmar Szafnauer, also felt that the Brazil GP was a missed opportunity for Hulkenberg which does pains the team as well as he thinks had they got that victory, it would have been the top moment for them.
The American, though, hopes that the German can return to F1. “I personally like Nico,” he said to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I think he’s a talent. He’s a nice guy, if you get to know him he’s really straightforward and honest.
“There’s no BS with him which is quite nice in that regard. And I think he’s good enough to be in F1. Hopefully things will work out where he’ll be able to come back one day.” FormulaRapida.net then asked if they can have Hulkenberg as simulator driver, to which Szafnauer stated that they haven’t had any talks with Hulkenberg and even if they did, he thinks he will decline as he believes that the German is at the stage of his career where such role doesn’t sufficiently benefit him.
[This story was written by me on FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]