Having initiated 193 Formula One races without making it to the podium, Nico Hulkenberg is no stranger to the challenges the F1 circuit presents. It is important to note that three starts, namely the 2013 Melbourne, 2015 Spa, and 2020 Silverstone, didn’t count as he failed to start those races. His finest performance has been a fourth-place finish, which he achieved three times driving for Force India and Sauber between 2012 and 2016.
Hulkenberg’s F1 history also includes a number of missed opportunities for podium finishes. Chief among these was the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix incident where he crashed while leading the majority of the race. Another memorable event was the sluggish second pitstop at the 2016 Monaco GP, which dashed his chances of a potential third-place finish.
In comparison, Adrian Sutil docked the highest number of races, 128 in this case, without securing a spot on the F1 podium. When confronted on the subject of his notable absence of F1 silverware- considering he never drove for a top-tier team, Hulkenberg responded by saying, “That’s stating a fact there. It is indeed frustrating when every racing driver back then and even now, desires to win ideally. But the truth remains, I’ve never had a prime car. Although I had some impressive cars and opportunities that could’ve secured me the coveted podium, they never materialized due to varying reasons.”
Hulkenberg added that despite some regrets, he appreciates his career trajectory. “Yes, a few things could’ve been improved, but I’m not bitter or frustrated about it. I’m in a good space, and expecting to hit 200 grands prix somewhere around Mexico in October. While I may not have the podium, the fact that I’ve managed to stick around for 200 grands prix suggests that there is some merit to my career.”
Hulkenberg’s stint in F1 presented him with “less than a handful” of opportunities at a podium finish. He noted that despite past missed opportunities, he focuses on making the most of his current season. “Unfortunately, the past opportunities didn’t pan out as planned which was agitating at the time, but I can’t change that now.”
The statistics affirm his argument as he holds the record for scoring ‘the most points without a victory or podium in F1‘, with a tally of 530 points. Hulkenberg had shown promise in his junior racing career and his Brazil 2010 pole for Williams escalated expectations of him signing with a leading F1 squad. However, this potential move to Ferrari a decade ago didn’t happen.
Hindered by his height of 6ft, Hulkenberg believes he lost opportunities to race for better teams due to F1‘s cockpit packaging requirements and weight rules favoring more compact drivers. “These packaging issues, less space and more weight, which is the opposite of what’s preferred in this business, has certainly impacted the chances of moving to a top car,” he noted. Reports suggest that his height was a deterrent for Ferrari when considering him for a 2013 signing. He was never explicitly told about his height being an issue, however, he believes it has obstructed opportunities for him to secure a spot in a top-tier vehicle.