Formula 1's forgotten man

 


Could Nico Hulkenberg - a man and a driver that has impressed so many since he first entered the Formula 1 circus - once again become the sport's most talked about 'forgotten man'? It appears to have become an unfortunate annual event, and one that you sense doesn't sit well amongst many in and out of the paddock. Tipped for greatness by so many, but will he ever be given the chance?

A ruthless winner in the junior categories, Nico has shown on numerous occasions that he can race at the front in F1 races amongst the very best. Leading races in a Williams, Sauber and Force India is no mean feat and something that many could only strive for. We've witnessed great battles between himself and the elite of the sport - particularly Fernando Alonso - and more than hold his own. There's no denying that the skill set is there, but will he be able to demonstrate that in a front running car any time soon?

His move back to Force India at the start of this season - given the options available to him - has certainly worked out well. Beginning the 2014 season with 10 consecutive points finishes, including 6 top 6 finishes in the opening 7 rounds, highlighted once again what a stellar job he can do with the tools at his disposal. He's helped lead the team to a record points haul, and has given them the platform on which to battle McLaren for 5th place in the Constructors Championship. You do have to ask, what more can he do?

Having said that, since Budapest it hasn't been such a comfortable ride for the hugely popular German. Contact with his team mate appears to have coincided with a 'dip' in form at exactly the wrong time, having scored just 7 points in the last 6 races - less than he managed in Australia alone.

Has he simply missed his chance? With seemingly very little room at the top (despite us not really knowing what Ferrari or McLaren are doing for next year), is Nico destined to remain in the midfield once again? Has the form of Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo placed The Hulk further down the pecking order of the front runners? Could it be a case of wrong place, wrong time? With the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel in the prime of their careers and Bottas, Ricciardo, Kyvat emerging as real contenders and future champions - has Nico sadly slipped into that unfortunate middle ground?

There is no denying his speed, talent or racecraft; but maybe we now have to consider the possibility that there is 'hotter property' out there? The good news for Nico is that he's in a good team, a team that is progressing year on year and has the Mercedes power unit. With three races to go in the 2014 season, can he and team mate Perez wrestle 5th spot back off McLaren and secure the team not only a record points haul, but a record high finish in the Constructors Championship?


Paul Godley 13/10/2014

Image source (and all image rights): Nico Hulkenberg - ForceIndiaF1

Top Drivers

 
Driver Points
Hamilton 252
Rosberg 211
Vettel 203
Raikkonen 107
Bottas 101
Massa 97
 

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