Hulkenberg: To hold the F1 record without a podium really speaks to my ability in F1

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg believes being the Formula 1 driver with the most starts without ever finishing on the podium “actually speaks for me” in terms of his racing ability.

Hulkenberg has started 193 F1 races – not including the 2013 Melbourne, 2015 Spa and 2020 Silverstone races where he failed to start – with a best result of fourth.

He achieved this result three times for what was then called Force India and Sauber between 2012 and 2016, but had several other podium near misses.

These include his crash with Lewis Hamilton after leading much of the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and the late second pitstop which meant he missed out on a potential third place at the 2016 Monaco GP.

The driver with the next highest total of F1 races without a podium is Adrian Sutil, with 128 starts.

When asked if he ever felt disappointed at his lack of F1 silverware, even considering he has never driven for a top-line team in the championship, Hulkenberg replied: “That’s stating a fact.

“Obviously when you start thinking about it it’s a bit disappointing. Because every racing driver then and even now wants to win, ideally. But at the same time, I’ve never had the car.

“I had good cars and I also had opportunities to get on the podium, but for various reasons it never really happened. I never clicked and it happened.

“But to be honest, I’m still in a good, happy place – enjoying myself. And on reflection, of course there were things I could have done better.

“But I’m not bitter or disappointed about it. I’m in a good place and I think I’ll get 200 grands prix later in the season – somewhere in Mexico [in October].

“And while I didn’t get the podium, I think if I was that bad I wouldn’t have been able to stay [for] 200 grands prix – so there’s got to be some good in there somewhere.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Photo: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hulkenberg also said his chances of a podium finish in his entire F1 experience had dwindled to “less than a handful” of opportunities.

“I’m here in the current Formula 1 season, working day in, day out and trying to maximize the season,” he said of how he now sees his career, which has had a late renaissance with Haas since Hulkenberg’s departure. from Renault for 2020.

“I have to maximize what I have. And opportunities in the past, unfortunately, didn’t work out. Of course, it was very disappointing at the time, but it is what it is.

“There is this and someone told me the other day that there is this ‘most races without a podium’ stat.

“But there is another statistic like ‘most points without a win or without a podium in F1’. [Hulkenberg has 530, ahead of Sutil’s 124]. My point is that the statistic speaks for me, actually.”

After his impressive junior racing career and pole in Brazil in 2010 for Williams, Hulkenberg was expected to sign for a top F1 team and was regularly linked with a move to Ferrari a decade ago.

But that never happened and since then he has spent his long F1 career racing mostly for midfield teams.

Hulkenberg, who is 6ft tall, says his height “definitely didn’t help” and believes he missed out on opportunities to race for better teams due to F1’s weight and cockpit packaging requirements favoring smaller drivers.

It is understood that Hulkenberg’s height was one of the reasons why Ferrari decided not to sign him for 2013.

“I never had an answer where [teams] he said, ‘Sorry, no – we turned you down because you’re too tall,'” Hulkenberg said. “They probably wouldn’t tell me directly.

“But I’m pretty sure that, yes, it prevented the odd opportunity and the opportunity to jump into a top car.

“Packaging problems, less space, more weight, which is not the right way to be in this business.”

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