Nico Hulkenberg admits his move to Sauber has been “not as expected” but says he doesn’t regret the decision.
Speaking to Autsoport, Hulkenberg said “I made a move that maybe in hindsight doesn’t look so good.”
“But it’s a challenge for me to keep up and still keep doing my best.”
Hulkenberg left Force India for Sauber at the end of last season. He led his last race for his previous team for 30 laps before tangling with Lewis Hamilton and retiring.
But his move to Sauber, who scored four podium finishes last year, coincided with a downturn in the team’s fortunes. They have scored just seven points so far this season – all courtesy of Hulkenberg – whereas after ten races last year they had 80.
Hulkenberg made his F1 debut with Williams in 2010 but despite scoring pole position for them in Brazil was unable to keep his place at the team as they needed a driver who could bring backing. He has started all three of his F1 campaigns with different teams, and is yet to decide who he will drive for next year.
However he admitted he could remain at his current team: “Me and my manager are looking at all the possible options, including Sauber,” said Hulkenberg. “We’re some way away from making a decision.”
Car No.: 27
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 10th
Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.
With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.
Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.
When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.
But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.
Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.
Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.