Nico Hulkenberg has left open the possibility of a future driver role with Ferrari, despite a below par start to the season with Ferrari powered Sauber.
When the talented 25-year-old made the curious and apparently sideways step from Force India to Sauber for 2013, many sensed a ‘Ferrari factor’.
Indeed, while Force India uses Mercedes power, the Swiss team Sauber is a customer and close political ally of Ferrari.
Following the German’s move, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said: “I am very curious to see how Hulkenberg goes with our engine at Sauber”.
The start of Hulkenberg’s Ferrari-powered career has been mixed: he has thoroughly outshone Esteban Gutierrez in the sister car and won Sauber’s praise. On the other hand, the C32 car is struggling. Asked if that’s what he expected when he moved from Force India, Hulkenberg smiled to Spain’s El Confidencial: “No. We are behind where we expected, and not producing the results we wanted.”
As for whether his road towards Ferrari is on course, Hulkenberg admitted: “I don’t know — you’ll have to ask them. These are the early days of the season, but I do want to get back to winning races and challenging, and to be champion one day.”
“To do that you have to be in a big team. The future is open and you have to do the best you can with the car you have every weekend,” he added.
Hulkenberg, a rare commodity in the Formula 1 paddock in that he is a midfield driver without considerable sponsorship backing, has had a stop-start Formula 1 career so far.
He made an impressive debut in 2010, scoring pole position at the season finale, but was immediately dropped by Williams. He sat on the reserve bench with Force India the following year, returning to the grid in 2012.
“Three teams in three years, many changes … more than I would like,” Hulkenberg smiled again. “What happened with Williams was frustrating — there was no discussion, I was out. You do a good season and lose the seat for other reasons.”
“In any case, it’s in the past and everyone’s race (Formula 1 career) is different — mine with many changes,” he added.