For Nico Hulkenberg, racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was arguably the experience of a lifetime, let alone winning the thing on his first crack.
And it is one that truly stands alone from his more recent and current experience in Formula 1, now with Sahara Force India.
While he was easily the most recognizable name on a worldwide scale of the three drivers in Porsche Team’s third Porsche 919 Hybrid, the No. 19 car he shared with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, Hulkenberg made sure to give proper credit to his two teammates.
The German was the one tasked with bringing the car home in the final stint, and reflected on his emotions as it happened.
“It was so weird to go slower, so I wouldn’t do one more lap,” Hulkenberg said in the post-race press conference. “I slowed right down… we got the nice finish and picture.
“When you see the thousands of people here, it’s an amazing experience. It’s so amazing and great to get to do it.
“I’m really happy I’ve done it, and to do so with these two legends (Tandy and Bamber) straight away.”
Hulkenberg said he didn’t mind working through traffic, but he appreciated what drivers in endurance racing have to do on a consistent lap-by-lap basis.
“There was no major concern, but it is a massive task,” he said. “It’s very easy to have an accident in traffic. So many things can go wrong. You hope to stay clean.”
Later on, Hulkenberg was inevitably asked an F1-related question, and whether F1 should learn from Le Mans.
Ever the politically correct diplomat, Hulkenberg darted around a direct answer like he did around GTE cars during the race.
“There are some good things here. There are some things in F1 that can be worked on,” Hulkenberg said.
“I’m fortunate to have both of these opportunities.”
Asked whether he’d be able to come back next year, Hulkenberg simply said “we’ll see,” but you’d have to figure that Porsche will be keen on having its now Le Mans-winning lineup back with a chance to defend, assuming schedules allow.