Nico Hulkenberg to compete in his first Race Of Champions


Nico Hulkenberg will join fellow F1 drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in the annual Race Of Champions this November.

Hulkenberg’s name is the latest to be added to a stellar field including fellow (and nine-time) Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, 2014 World Rallycross champ Peter Solberg, reigning ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard, five-time 500cc MotoGP champ Mick Doohan and double MotoGP champ Jorge Lorenzo.

Other drivers are expected to be added to the field between now and the actual event, which will be held Nov. 20-21 at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park stadium.

Hulkenberg, who races for Sahara Force India in F1, was selected for the ROC field because he won this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours event. He’s the first current F1 driver to win Le Mans in more than 20 years, having driven a Porsche to the win this past June.

This will be Hulkenberg’s first ROC, and illustrates the wide breath of vehicles he’s driven and succeeded in this seaso.

Hulkenberg will partner with Vettel for Team Germany, organizers said in a media release. Vettel is a six-time ROC winner, having previously partnered with F1 great Michael Schumacher.

“I’ve always wanted to take part (in the ROC) but it never worked out, so now I’m really happy to be a part of it and looking forward to it,” Hulkenberg said in a media release. “I’m obviously stepping into big shoes to replace Michael Schumacher, which is a huge honor as well. I feel very happy and positive about that and it will be fun to team up with Seb and race and fight for Team Germany.

“The ROC track is very narrow and tight, a bit like racing on a street circuit. But it’s still quick and dynamic and entertaining to watch. There’s going to be quite a bit of car-hopping, adapting and adjusting from one machine to another. They’re all quite different so I don’t really know what to expect. But I guess I’ll get dumped into the cold water and then I’ll have to figure out how to swim.”

Vettel is looking forward to working with his new teammate.

“It’s obviously very sad that Michael can’t join us again, but in his absence it’s great to have Nico as a partner on Team Germany this year,” Vettel said. “I have massive respect for what he did in the Le Mans 24 Hours – to win it on his first attempt is very impressive.

“That’s a great race to watch because the race is long yet they race flat out from the first lap for the whole of the race. The Race Of Champions is at the other end of the scale in terms of distance but I can assure Nico we push just as hard!”

The ROC is split into two days of racing. Friday evening, Nov. 20, features the team-oriented Nations Cup, where drivers pair up based upon nationality and vie for “World’s Fastest Nation” honors.

The following day is essentially every driver for himself in the battle to earn the ROC championship.

Follow @JerryBonkowski