The former Mercedes F1 Team Principal, Ross Brawn, revealed that the team was seriously considering signing Nico Hulkenberg when Brawn was in charge.
Brawn disclosed that Hulkenberg was next in line for one of the most coveted F1 seats today, had Lewis Hamilton never joined.
Had Hamilton never switched to Mercedes from McLaren, Hulkenberg would probably be a race winner and even World Champion! Moreover, Hulkenberg as an option shouldn’t come as a surprise given his talent at the time.
Assuming Brawn is referring to 2012 when Hamilton announced his shock switch to Mercedes, Hulkenberg was a top prospect in Formula 1. Despite being in a midfield car in Force India, the German regularly shined with impressive results.
In a column on F1.com, Brawn wrote:
“It was going to be an incredible physical challenge for Nico Hulkenberg and I don’t know how much he hurt at the end of the race, but it was great performance all weekend by someone who had just been dropped in the deep end.
“I almost signed him years ago, when I was in charge at Mercedes. If Lewis hadn’t joined Mercedes when he did, Nico was our next choice.
“I’ve always respected Nico enormously as a driver. He’s a very strong driver who should be in Formula 1.”
F1 fans can vividly remember Hulkenberg’s moment of glory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. Hulk led the race in a Force India before ironically colliding with Hamilton himself. Nico’s mistake in Brazil probably didn’t cost him too dearly, but Brawn’s praise is a testament to his talent.
In addition, Ross Brawn firmly believes that the German should stay in Formula 1. As things stand, Hulkenberg doesn’t have a seat for 2021. Sadly, we may have seen the last of Nico for this year as Racing Point hinted at Perez’s return this weekend.
Nevertheless, in the one chance he got to show off his talent, Hulkenberg didn’t disappoint. The German driver qualified with a stunning P3 at the grid for last week’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t break his podium duck, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless. Hulkenberg recently admitted to being in talks with F1 teams over a potential return, let’s hope it comes true!