F1 2014 Driver Review: Nico Hulkenberg


Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Sahara Force India F1 Team
Car No.: 27
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 96
Laps Led: 5
Championship Position: 9th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Ever the nearlyman, Nico Hulkenberg’s 2014 was a year of relative stability. For once, his was not a big player in the driver market, with Ferrari signing Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull opting to promote Daniil Kvyat instead of going for the German driver.

Hulkenberg made a very strong start to the season, scoring points in all of the first ten races of the season, only to then fade away in the second half of the year. His performances were solid if unspectacular, picking up points regularly to help Force India on its way to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Despite outscoring teammate Sergio Perez, Hulkenberg was perhaps less impressive, never really looking capable of a podium finish. 2015 will be an interesting one as he balances his F1 commitments with two WEC races for Porsche’s LMP1 programme, but if Nico is to get a big-money seat at the top of the grid, he needs to break his podium duck and challenge the very best.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

As I follow IndyCar very closely and attend a majority of its races, I find Justin Wilson to be the IndyCar equivalent of Nico Hulkenberg. Both are talented, tall individuals but for either a lack of timing or funding – or both – seems to keep them hamstrung perpetually in the midfield. At least of this time of writing Hulkenberg has his 2015 plans sorted while Wilson doesn’t.

Nonetheless, Hulkenberg’s 2014 season as he returned to Force India from Sauber was what I’d have to call a “Bizarro Hulk” season where his best results came in the first half of the year rather than the second. The German’s been a slow starter most of his F1 career. In 2010, 2012 and 2013, Hulkenberg had just six total points finishes from the first seven races of each year (21 total races). From races eight through 19 or 20, Hulkenberg had 22 in 37 races.

So when Hulkenberg came out of the gate firing in 2014, with points finishes in each of the first 10 races, it bucked his career trend. It was yet another case of Hulkenberg extracting the most from a fourth-to-fifth best car on the grid. But sadly his heights were four fifth-place finishes in that stretch, and it was teammate Sergio Perez who bagged the Bahrain podium when either had a shot. Five points results from the last nine races of 2014 produced a far lower point total – 27 from the last nine compared to 69 in the first 10. It was a good season, but not quite to the same level of ending strong as he’d done in the past.