Nico Hulkenberg used to drive for Renault, now renamed Alpine. After a three-years stint with the french squad, Hulkenberg got demoted at the end of the 2019 season, to the benefit of the arriving Esteban Ocon. He then found himself without a seat, nonetheless with the clear intention to make a return in the queen category of Motorsports, as soon as an opportunity arose.
That opportunity came in the form of a seat at Red Bull. Although the team was renowned for hiring their pairings straight from their young drivers’ program, the results of Alex Albon compared to Max Verstappen gave the Milton Keynes management a little bit of concern. With a view to a fight for the constructor championship, Red Bull desperately needed their second driver to score consistently enough to make a viable threat to Mercedes. Hence the chance Hulkenberg was waiting for to find his way back into an F1 seat.
However, the competition he was up against was no other than Sergio Perez, and the solid results the Mexican scored in the second half of the 2020 season put an end to the German’s hopes, as he himself reckoned:
"I better not watch Red Bull, because then I will cry", he joked.
"I don't think about it. I've been in talks with the team throughout the second half of last year.”
“The last few races, that period when Perez started to do really well, that victory in Bahrain, then it was over."
When asked about his current prospects in F1, the 33-years old detailed the job he’s doing for both Aston Martin and Mercedes, as he got appointed as their reserve driver.
"Well, I'm more of the test driver for Aston Martin.”
“Mercedes is only a small job, for a few races. Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries also drive in Formula E and the WEC, so they are not available a few times a year. For those races I am the man if something happens".
Hulkenberg also opened up about an opportunity to replace his fellow countryman Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin, and the performance of four-times world champion with the Silverstone-based. The man from Emmerich believes Vettel needs time to adjust and get comfortable with the car, and will certainly end the season with the team.
"He will finish the season there, I think, but there is still something to come. It takes a while, he doesn't feel completely comfortable yet. You can see that on the stopwatch, but yes, it is not my decision," he said.
In the end, considering the possibility of not finding a seat in F1, the German asserted he will look at other motorsports categories, as the love of racing is still in him.
"If it doesn't happen for me in Formula 1, then of course I have to see what I want to do. The racing is still in me, I miss it, so I have to look at other things. I want to be sitting in a seat again for years."