Although he will not be on the Bahrain grid, Nico Hulkenberg will not be sitting idle in 2011. The ousted Williams driver is set to drive Force India’s new car on every Friday morning practice this year, and according to Auto Motor und Sport he will also have other duties.
The German publication said the 23-year-old might contest a few rounds of the European Le Mans sports car series, as well as commentating on F1 with the German pay-broadcaster Sky.
Replaced at Williams by pay-driver Pastor Maldonado, Hulkenberg ended his disappointing winter by sampling Force India’s 2010 car at Valencia last week.
But he then had to revert to a spectator’s role that he must now get used to.
“Watching hurts,” confirmed the German. “But the main thing is that I am still here, and hope dies last.”
Hulkenberg’s manager thinks the Force India role was a case of damage limitation.
“It was the best solution possible, after waiting for Williams for so long,” he said.
There had been rumours of a similar reserve driver role with Mercedes.
“There was no contact between Mercedes and me,” clarifies Hulkenberg. “If I’d gone there it would have been harder for me to draw attention to myself as Mercedes already has two very good drivers.”
Auto Motor und Sport said there had been some contact with McLaren, but for now Hulkenberg is satisifed with hopefully following in Paul di Resta’s footsteps by preceding a full race seat with a season of Friday driving with Force India.
“This is my chance and I have to use it,” he insisted.