Nico Hulkenberg: The Saviour of F1?

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Updated: October 9, 2013

As we all know, in recent years a certain Sebastian Vettel has dominated Formula 1 more or less. 2010, fair enough, it was his first world championship, and it was a close fight. Come to 2011 though and it’s a different story. Apart from one stand out race, the season was mostly dull, with Vettel actually breaking records based on dullness. 2012, like 2010 was a close fight, and the season on the whole had many close races, with it all boiling down to the final race at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Whilst Vettel didn’t win that race, he won the championship fair and square, and it lead to a rather post traumatic looking Alonso.

Only the dead can know peace from this evil

Only the dead can know peace from this evil

This year though Vettel has been at it again. Whilst it initially looked like a good season, eventually Vettel put the hammer down and set a course for championship number 4. And for him it’s been pretty smooth sailing. But when even drivers themselves say it’s boring when one driver wins all the time, you have to wonder. Who can stop Vettel, who can make F1 interesting again?

2013 has been pretty much Vettel first, Alonso second and Raikkonen third, with the odd Grosjean and Hamilton thrown in for good measure. But what about when someone throws a spanner in the works, a bit of a curve ball? Well that spanner is Nico Hulkenberg. Wait, that came out wrong. You know what I mean. When someone who probably shouldn’t be high up the order inexplicably is, things get real interesting.

Last year Nico came 4th in Belgium in his Force India, and he is clearly loving it! Every other driver casually sails by as if they’d come last, and there’s Nico celebrating as if he’d won. Another strong performance at the season finale grabbed peoples attention, as he a Button diced for the lead.

Did I also mention hot got pole position in this hunk of junk?

Did I also mention he got pole position in this hunk of junk?

And now this year. Sauber had a  rather ignominious start to the season, with Hulkenberg not even starting the first race. Slowly but surely the team have brought it back, culminating in qualifying 3rd in Italy and finishing an amazing 4th in Korea. That Korean Grand Prix in particular was special to to me. It really highlighted how good Nico can be under pressure, and I would go as far to say as Hamilton cracked under the pressure. Singapore was a dreadfully boring race in the grand scheme of things, but Korea showed that Vettel winning doesn’t make F1 boring. All the drivers finishing where you expect them to finish makes F1 boring.

That is why Hulkenberg is saving F1. He is punching above his weight on a regular basis, and nine times out of ten, he comes out on top. That is what makes F1 interesting. 10-15 years ago you could lose a good 3/4 of the grid to mechanical failures and crashes, which usually meant someone unlikely did rather well. Take Mark Webber’s first ever race in F1 for example. But now it seems almost that drivers and the cars are too good. But Hulkenberg can get to the front of his own accord, and that’s what makes him a really excellent driver.

Bring on next year I say, put Hulkenberg in a better car and he will shine. And these new engines should see some more retirements, which should put some other unlikely stars near the top.

 

F1 Article

By Harry Wright

Twitter-@hazzwright

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