After a season away, Nico Hülkenberg returns to the team where he impressed during the 2012 season.
Born in 1987, Nico made a huge impression in his karting career, winning the German Junior title in 2002 and the senior version the following year. In 2005, aged just 17, he graduated to the domestic Formula BMW series, taking eight race wins and beating Sebastian Buemi to the title.
In 2006 he competed in German F3, finishing fifth in the championship. By now under the management of Willi Weber – the man who discovered Michael Schumacher – Nico really made his mark in A1 GP, taking nine wins and earning the series title for Germany.
In 2007 he made a sideways move to Euro F3 with the ASM team. In his first year in the highly competitive series he finished a strong third, behind only team mate Romain Grosjean and Buemi. He also won the F3 Masters event at Zandvoort, and experienced his first F1 mileage when he tested for Williams at Jerez in December.
He remained with the renamed ART team in 2008, dominating the championship with eight wins. He also had a taste of the GP2 Asia Series, winning in Qatar, while he continued to log F1 mileage in testing for Williams.
In 2009 Nico contested the GP2 Series for ART, earning five wins and taking the title in his rookie year – a feat previously matched only by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, both of whom also drove for ART. He continued to impress the Williams team with his testing performances and duly earned a fulltime seat for 2010, alongside Rubens Barrichello.
On only his third outing in Malaysia Nico qualified fifth and scored his first point with 10th place. He finished in the points seven times in total, with a best of sixth place in Hungary. The undoubted highlight, however, was a stunning pole position on a drying track at the penultimate race of the season in Brazil.
Unfortunately Williams could not offer Nico a race seat for 2011, and instead he switched to Sahara Force India to take up the role of reserve driver, sampling the car for the first time in Valencia in February. He subsequently took part in 14 Friday practice sessions on race weekends.
Nico impressed the team with his speed, feedback and approach, and in December 2011 he was confirmed as a race driver for 2012, alongside Paul Di Resta. The season confirmed Nico’s talent as a driver, with 11 point finishes and a career-best fourth place in Belgium. During the last race of the season, he led the race under treacherous conditions for 30 laps before settling for fifth at the chequered flag.
A move to Sauber for 2013 saw Nico match his best-ever result of fourth in Korea, where he held off Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the closing stages of the race. Following the season, Nico announced his return to Sahara Force India for the 2014 season and beyond.