Jun.5 (GMM/Inautonews.com) As far as his racing calendar goes, Nico Hulkenberg is just about to hit a new high gear.
The German will contest Sunday’s Canadian grand prix for Force India, and then immediately board a plane bound for France and the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans.
He is uniquely splitting his time between F1 and the Porsche prototype cockpit this year, having already admitted his grand prix career is not proceeding exactly as he would like.
Hulkenberg, 27, and Mexican teammate Sergio Perez are impatiently waiting for a key mid-year upgrade for their struggling Force India.
For the German, although once linked with a move to Ferrari, suggestions are now doing the rounds in the paddock that his shot at wins and titles may have passed.
It is a similar story for Romain Grosjean.
Lotus’ French driver is quoted by Speed Week in Canada: “In 2013, many people were talking about Nico and me, but then came more difficult times and suddenly almost no one is talking about you anymore.”
Mark Webber, who left formula one for a full-time Porsche seat two years ago, thinks it is possible drivers like Hulkenberg will tire of the dwindling challenge of F1 and look increasingly to the world of endurance sports cars.
“Nico Hulkenberg came across (from F1) and said ‘I’m pushing, I’m pushing every lap in the Porsche — (but) in formula one it’s more of an endurance nature!'” Webber told Racer magazine.
“People don’t want to hear that too often, but it’s the truth.
“My guess is you’ll see more (F1) drivers look this way because sports cars have a lot to offer,” Webber predicted.
As he prepares for his forthcoming F1-Le Mans double header, however, Hulkenberg insisted in Canada that he is not yet finished with formula one.
“I didn’t decide on this project (Porsche) with the idea that this is my retirement,” he told Germany’s Sport Bild.
“But of course one day it is an alternative, but at the moment I just think it’s cool.”