Silverstone Superweekend: The German, Who Started The Race From Third Position, Finished Confidently In Seventh Place
When Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19, Nico Hülkenberg got the call to stand in for the driver at the last minute. Despite the short notice, the German driver did a great job at Silverstone’s second race weekend.
The starting positions were quite different from the previous week, where Hülkenberg had placed 13th on the grid but unfortunately didn’t end up participating in the race due to technical problems. This time, however, he started the race in third position, just behind the Mercedes drivers.
A difficult race and a forced pit stop meant that Hülkenberg dropped back a few places during the course of the race. The German driver still finished strong, placing seventh overall and coming home just behind Lance Stroll who finished second for Racing Point.
Nico Hülkenberg, how did driving and returning to the GP race feel after the break?
“I am relatively happy with how the weekend went. It is always important to score points for the team and I was able do that despite the race strategy not being ideal. Overall, qualifying third fastest and then finishing seventh place is not too bad, particularly when you take into consideration it was a completely new car for me and I was sat on the sofa 10 days before.“
The Grand Prix at Silverstone was a monumental occasion for the sport. Exactly 70 years earlier, in 1950, the first F1 race took place on the famous British track.
Dutch driver Max Verstappen won the race for the Redbull team. His tires clearly held up better than Hülkenberg and the Mercedes duo that took second and third on the podium. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who is currently top of Championship leader board, finished in second position after overtaking his teammate Valtteri Bottas. Bottas had started the race in pole position, but eventually had to settle for third place.
Hülkenberg has been out of action during most of 2020. However, the driver has made a number of appearances during RTL’s (German Broadcaster) Formula 1 coverage. As well as his experience on the F1 track, Hülkenberg has pursued a number of other interesting racing endeavours throughout his career. For example, in 2015 he took part in a traditional 24-hour Le Mans drive in a Porsche LMP1-class and won the race on his first attempt together with Earl Bamber and Nick Taylor.
Hülkenberg has so far had an exciting Formula 1 career and holds some unusual records. In the 178 Grand Prix races he’s competed in, he’s been in the lead a couple of times and even driven the fastest laps. However, he’s only held pole position once and not made it to the podium yet.
Hülkenberg made his Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2010. Since then, the experienced driver has worn various team colours, including:
2012 Force India
2014 – 2016 Force India
2017 – 2019 Renault
During his career, Nico Hülkenberg has amassed a total of 517 World Championship points, including at Silverstone. According to a long-time expert in motorsports, Racing Point considered Hülkenberg to be the strongest alternative to race at Silverstone. Of the drivers on offer from outside the series, he had been the last to drive and demonstrate his talent.
Finnish firm, Saldo Finance, proudly sponsored Hülkenberg:
”I would like to thank Saldo Finance for their support and the special partnership for the 70th anniversary Grand Prix. From my perspective the ”Hulkenback” was a success and I am proud that I had Saldo as a partner for the occasion. I am looking forward to partnering with Saldo again in the future”, Hülkenberg said.
”We were presented with a great opportunity to support Hülkenberg's return to the big stage. This is an exciting opportunity for us as a rapidly growing Finnish internationalizing company to join the formula circus”, said Mr. Jarkko Mäensivu, CEO of Saldo Finance.
Following his performance at Silverstone, Hülkenberg confirmed that he has been having conversations with various teams about the possibility of a place for next season.
What expectations do you have for the rest of the season and what are your goals and hopes for the next season 2021?
”My goal is to race and to be competitive. The remainder of the 2020 season in Formula 1 is out of my hands as all the seats are obviously taken. Regarding 2021, I have been in talks with a couple of teams about returning for the 2021 season. I am confident these discussions will move forward over the coming weeks and hopefully I will be able to race in front of my fans again next year.”
In a recent spring interview with Auto Motor und Sport magazine, Nico Hülkenberg talked about his life in Monte Carlo during the COVID-19 crisis. Hülkenberg revealed during the interview that he was feeling well, healthy and refreshed. However, like other parts of the world, Monaco was also subject to restrictions. Thankfully though, important matters could be dealt with over the phone or by email.
He took his break from being behind the wheel well; however, he did have some opportunities to use the driving simulator.
”The Covid situation has not been easy for a lot of people and it has been very sad to see and read how the world has been and continues to be impacted. Not having a full time seat has given me more free time to enjoy and do things that I haven’t been able to for the last 10 years, but I do look forward to getting back to doing what I enjoy most” Hülkenberg said.
Our Finnish expert, who has lived in Germany for a long time and has closely followed the German media and Formula 1 races, says that the likeable 32-year-old Hülkenberg, who lives in Monaco, is still very popular in his homeland and has not been forgotten by the public or the media.
”He's a nice guy and is extraordinarily liked. He keeps a low profile and doesn’t like to make too much noise about himself”, our expert notes.
”In that respect, he reminds us of stiff Finns. Nico Hülkenberg is without a doubt a talented driver who has shown his skills at a young age and it would be nice to see his career continue and succeed. He is a racing driver with both the skill and the ability to take a place at the top.”
Formula 1 racing is a ruthless sport and a tough environment to work in. Nico Hülkenberg has had similar difficulties to many other drivers throughout his career.
One of the major issues in Formula 1 racing is the technology and durability of the cars. Developing a race car requires tremendous resources, time and money. Everything has to come together perfectly. It’s clear that Hülkenberg has huge potential as a driver, however, it remains to be seen what the rest of the season will bring for Hülkenberg and whether he’ll be able to get a new team behind him in time for 2021. However, from where we’re standing the future certainly looks bright.
Text: Jouni Koskivirta