F1 2015 Driver Review: Nico Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Sahara Force India F1 Team
Car No.: 27
Races: 18
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 6th (Austria, Japan, Brazil)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 58
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 10th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

That elusive podium failed to materialize for Nico Hulkenberg once again in 2015. The German driver has long been tipped as one of the most underrated drivers in Formula 1, yet he failed to live up to that billing this year.

Force India had its troubles that of course did not aid Hulkenberg’s efforts. The 2015 car only debuted at the final winter test in Barcelona, and it wasn’t until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone that the B-spec model arrived.

However, Hulkenberg didn’t enjoy the same upsurge in form that teammate Sergio Perez did. The fact that his highest finish of the year was sixth is indicative of that, as is the fact that he rarely went challenge en route to these finishes. He picked up big points on weekends when Force India was comfortably fourth-quickest; rarely did he out-perform the ability of the car in the second half of the year.

And yet 2015 will still go down as an astonishing year for Hulkenberg. His victory on debut at Le Mans stole the headlines, and it’s a shame he will not be able to defend his title next year. One can only hope that he makes good on the early promise of his career and finally, finally, ends that inexplicable podium drought.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Strange year for the “Hulk.” His best result came in a new discipline and I’m not sure whether to correlate the lack of results in his day job, especially by comparison to Sahara Force India teammate Sergio Perez, with the switch in machinery and re-adapting back to F1 after his 24 Hours of Le Mans win co-driving with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber in the Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Hulkenberg beat Perez on a more regular basis in the 2014 chassis, prior to the introduction of the B-spec chassis from Silverstone that, coincidentally or not, came after Le Mans.

As it was, Hulkenberg was mired in a rut from Hungary through Austin where he failed to finish five of seven races in a single span. Three respectable points finishes at least ended his year on a productive note. On the whole though, for a driver who has traditionally outperformed his machinery and tended to end seasons on a roll, it was a largely anonymous season.