Nico Hulkenberg is a German Formula 1 driver for Renault F1 team. He joined the team in 2017 having previously been at Force India and is 31 years old. Hulkenberg has never finished on the podium despite having nearly 200 Grand Prix starts to his name.
Despite this record he is regarded as one of the fastest drivers on the grid with many believing that he has the ability to win a championship if he was with a top team.
Route to Formula 1
Hulkenberg made his karting debut in 1997 at the age of 10 and went on to work his way up the ranks and make it to Formula 1.
Progressing from karting the German started to race in the German Formula BMW in 2005. He dominated the championship and won the title with relative ease. He won the world final but was then stripped as it was deemed that he brake tested his rivals under the safety car.
For the 2006/07 Hulkenberg joined the German A1 Grand Prix team. He picked up nine race wins in his rookie season making him the most successful young driver in A1GP history.
The next chapter of the Germans racing career would be to take part in Formula 3. He finished the season in 5th and picked up a number of race victories.
In his debut season in GP2 Hulkenberg won the series and immediately caught the attention of those in Formula 1. He won the title with two races to spare becoming the first driver to do so in GP2.
‘The Hulk’ was managed by famous manager Wili Weber who also looked over Michael Schumacher's career. Weber said that Hulkenberg would be in Formula 1 by 2008 and that he had described the racer as an “unbelievable talent”
Formula 1 career
Hulkenberg first drove a Formula 1 car in 2007 when he tested for Williams. Wili Weber had initially tried to get Hulkenberg a test role at Renault but the deal fell through. Hulkenberg impressed Williams so much during the two day test that they officially signed him as their test driver.
In 2010 he was signed for a full time racing seat with Williams. Hulkenberg drove well for the team and managed to get Williams’ first pole position since 2005 in the Brazilian Grand Prix. However, Frank Williams announced that Hulkenberg would not be driving for Williams in 2011 as other drivers could offer more money.
In 2011 Hulkenberg became Force India's reserve driver and would often test for the team on Friday practise sessions.
It was announced that for the 2012 season he would join Paul Di Resta in a racing seat with the team. Hulkenberg was consistently faster than his team mate and had a great season for Force India finishing 17 points ahead of Di Resta and out qualifying him 12 times.
For the 2013 season Hulkenberg would race for Sauber and once again had a solid season proving that he deserved his place in Formula 1.
In 2014 he returned to Force India and stayed with the team for three seasons. Hulkenberg drove alongside Sergio Perez and each year the team would improve up the constructors table. In 2016 Hulkenberg was still with the team and helped them to reach the status of ‘best of the rest’ by finishing the season fourth in the constructors championship.
Switching to Renault
For the 2017 season Nico Hulkenberg signed for Renault and drove alongside Jolyon Palmer. In 2018 Hulkenberg stayed at the team and raced with Carlos Sainz as his team mate.
For the 2019 season Daniel Ricciardo has joined the team and the two will hope that they can help Renault get back to the top of Formula 1. Although it is not believed they can challenge the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, Renault are expected to lead the midfield in 2019.
Hulkenberg is a quality driver but he is yet to get an opportunity at a big team. At the age of 31 he is probably too old to join one of the big three so will hope that he can help Renault in their quest to get back to championship winning ways.