Nico Hulkenberg Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

Driver Details

  • Nationality: GER
  • Current standing: 9th
  • Points: 96
  • Last Race: 6th
  • Best Finish: 4th (x2)

Force India might have labelled Nico Hulkenberg's move back to join them as a 'return home' but plenty of people wonder what on earth the German must do to make the likes of Ferrari and McLaren his habitat.

Linked with both, Hulkenberg has never received the call. And while there were hopes that he might finally step to a front-running (or thereabouts) team in Lotus for 2014, the latter's financial imperative has instead seen them opt for cash-rich Pastor Maldonado.

Arguably overdue a win, and clearly a better driver than his current station, the 26-year-old therefore continues to bang his head against F1's very own glass ceiling. Over six feet in height and, as a consequence, just about the heaviest driver out there, it's also been suggested that Hulkenberg's size and weight count against him.

Perhaps, but presumably Hulkenberg has always stood tall among his peers. If so, it clearly had little impact on his karting results (where, one would think, the handicap would be even greater) which brought him both the junior and senior German championships.

Switching to cars, Hulkenberg gained a measure of prominence as a teenager when he helped Germany to the A1GP title in 2006/2007. It set the tone for an impressive rise through the junior formulae, with the F3 Euroseries and GP2 titles secured in subsequent seasons, the latter at the first attempt.

By that stage, Hulkenberg had assumed testing duties for Williams and the next step was natural: a race seat alongside Rubens Barrichello in 2010. He found the transition a tough one at first but settled in as the season progressed, earning seven points finishes in all. Far more important, though, was the pole position he claimed in drying conditions at the Brazilian GP.

It was the sort of eye-catching performance drivers bound for greater things have the habit of producing and yet it could not save Hulkenberg his Williams seat. Instead, he was replaced by Maldonado (who he had the measure of when they were GP2 team-mates) in a move which, with hindsight, has set the tone career-wise.

Moving to Force India, Hulkenberg also took a backward step as reserve driver but did at least get to take part in 14 P1 sessions during the course of 2011 and with the team waving goodbye to Adrian Sutil at year's end, he was confirmed as Paul Di Resta's partner for 2012.

Race rusty early on, Hulkenberg claimed eight top-ten finishes from June onwards. He finished a career-best fourth at Spa and again saved his best for Interlagos, leading the Brazilian GP for a long time in treacherous conditions - although a subsequent collision with Lewis Hamilton blotted his copybook somewhat.

Hulkenberg then joined Sauber, the move viewed as being sideways at best at the time but arguably proving another step backwards as 2013 ushered in a series of fallow races. Results improved after the summer break, however - and markedly so.

Qualifying a surprise third on the grid at Monza, Hulkenberg fended off Nico Rosberg's Mercedes in the race and calmly did the same when pressured by Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in Korea. Once again, the performances were coming right when he needed them. But who noticed?

Lotus did and made their desire clear; the lure of a race-winning team allowing Hulkenberg to respond in kind, but once again finance trumped talent and the move was scuppered. Instead, he returns to Force India where he will be welcomed with open arms; yet will he get the chance to move his career forward at last?