Nico Hulkenberg will this weekend return to the asphalt that delivered his maiden pole position a year ago. Interlagos was the penultimate race of 2010 and also the second-last in the 24-year-old’s rookie season with Williams – and he duly conquered qualifying in tricky damp conditions.
One race later, he was soon to be replaced over the winter off-season by Pastor Maldonado, Hulkenberg’s successor as GP2 champion and backed by millions of Venezuelan dollars. The gutted Hulkenberg decamped to Force India, where in 2011 he has been driving the Mercedes-powered car on most Friday mornings.
“Yes, I am replacing (Adrian) Sutil (this weekend) — for 90 minutes,” Hulkenberg laughed to Blick newspaper, aware of the raging speculation that he will be replacing his experienced countryman full-time in 2012.
One of his 43,000 followers on Twitter commented: “Poor choice by Force India. Everybody knows you perform way better on Saturdays in Brazil.”
Agreed triple world champion Niki Lauda: “We need to see this fast guy in a good race car next season.”
Hulkenberg said: “I have to race in 2012. I want to prove what I can do.”