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Nico Hulkenberg

The times Hulkenberg threw away an F1 podium

Nico Hulkenberg returns to F1 in 2023 with Haas, looking for his first podium finish in the sport. RacingNews365.com has rounded up some of the times the German got oh so near to grabbing one.

Hulkenberg Vettel Webber 2010 Brasil
To news overview © xpb.cc

For a driver as experienced in Formula 1 as Nico Hulkenberg, the fact that his name has become synonymous with not achieving a podium finish may appear grossly unfair.

The German has raced in 181 Grands Prix and has a best finish of fourth, achieved four times throughout his career while racing in the midfield, never quite doing enough to warrant promotion into a front-running machine.

He will return to full-time action in 2023, having been signed by Haas to do what he does best: harvest points in the midfield for a squad firmly rooted in that position after a 'bounce back' season in 2022.

Given his return to action alongside Kevin Magnussen, RacingNews365.com has rounded up some of Hulkenberg's closest misses, starting with the race he arguably should have won...

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix - 5th place

The Force India, in Hulkenberg's hands, was quick at Interlagos for the finale to the 2012 season, where the major talking point was the title showdown between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

While the two championship contenders had various calamities on a wet Brazilian afternoon, Hulkenberg shone in conditions similar to those in which he took his famous pole position two years earlier.

Crucially, he opted to stay out on dry tyres when the field dived for the pit lane and Intermediate rubber, steadily reeling in race leader Jenson Button.

He passed the McLaren and pulled away in the lead, although a half-spin allowed Lewis Hamilton to nip by into P1.

As Lap 54 ended and the leaders lapped some backmarkers, Hulkenberg slid into the McLaren, ending Hamilton's farewell to the team with suspension damage.

Once he got going again, Hulkenberg copped a drive-through penalty, but still managed to come home fifth as Vettel snatched the title by three points.

This was Hulkenberg's chance to not only claim a podium but also win a Grand Prix. It is the closest he has come, and 11 years on, he is still awaiting for a chance as golden.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

2016 Belgian Grand Prix - 4th place

Starting seventh on the grid in his Force India, Hulkenberg must have felt like Moses parting the Red Sea on the opening lap at Spa.

At La Source, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen collided, with Hulkenberg also passing Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Sergio Perez to run second behind Nico Rosberg.

He maintained this position until a heavy accident for Kevin Magnussen at the top of the hill in the Renault.

The Safety Car was deployed, with the team bringing Hulkenberg in, moments before the red flag was thrown for barrier repairs.

However, he was actually the net leader of the race behind the Safety Car, as both Rosberg and Ricciardo had not pitted, an advantage he would lose due to the subsequent suspension of the Grand Prix.

Both Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton – recovering from a P21 start due to engine penalties – powered past the Force India, relegating him to fourth place.

To date, he has never finished higher in any subsequent Grand Prix.

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix - DNF

Baku 2017 was a race that every driver and their dog had a chance of winning.

Teammate collisions, title rivals clashing and loose headrests made the second visit to the shores of the Caspian Sea a thriller – and one heck of a missed opportunity for Hulkenberg, now at the Renault works squad.

After the madness of the opening laps had subsided, the order was Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo with Hulkenberg lurking behind as Lap 25 began.

Rounding the tight left-hander of Turn 7, Hulkenberg fractionally misjudged and turned in too far, clipping the inside wall and breaking the suspension.

Given the events that were to transpire with Hamilton's headrest, Vettel's stop/go for playing bumper cars and Massa's own DNF, Hulkenberg was in contention for a podium as Ricciardo and Stroll cleared off.

In the end, Ricciardo would win and a recovering Bottas stole P2 on the line from Stroll, who took a maiden podium finish.

Indeed, that day, nine of the 10 teams scored points, with the only ones not to do so being Renault after Hulkenberg's DNF and Jolyon Palmer's dreadful weekend with reliability.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

2019 German Grand Prix - DNF

Given the fact that Hulkenberg has never found himself in a top, front-running car capable of podium finishes on pure pace alone, it is likely that his chance may come in wet weather, having proved himself a fine reinmeister.

Such a day was the 2019 visit to Hockenheim, with it proving to be a classic wet-dry-wet-dry event.

Mercedes imploded, Charles Leclerc crashed the Ferrari, Max Verstappen spun and won and Danill Kvyat took a podium for Toro Rosso.

But this was a glaring opportunity for Hulkenberg and Renault to claim a rostrum visit, one that slid from their grasp.

The stadium section at Hockenheim was treacherous, especially rounding the final two corners with the drag strip on the outside proving the downfall of Leclerc and very nearly Hamilton.

As for Hulkenberg, he was running second behind Verstappen before the Mercedes duo overhauled him, but still running a strong fourth until he slid into the gravel and into the wall on Lap 40.

Podium chance over and in the 14 races he has driven since in F1, Hulkenberg has a best finish of fifth, a few races later in the 2019 Italian GP.

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