F1 Documentary: Graduating to the Team

Formula One star Nico Hülkenberg, the Renault F1 Team and the Infinity Engineering Academy are looking for the greatest talent of race engineering!

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Seven students from North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East & Oceania are competing for an F1 job on a Grand Prix weekend: Set-up fine-tuning in the race simulator, the battle for the best lap times on the test track, „Tech-Check“ – See how the winner made his way through all the challenges to the F1 pit lane.

Nico and Formula 1:

Williams promoted its protégé into the 2010 race team as Rubens Barrichello’s team-mate and Hülkenberg responded with a steady campaign that netted 14th in the World Championship. That included finishing sixth in Hungary and seventh at Monza but it was at the Brazilian Grand Prix when the F1 sages really took real note. He made the most of changeable conditions to qualify his Williams FW32-Cosworth on a surprise pole position.

However, F1’s economic realities forced Williams to accept Venezuelan sponsorship monies and replace Hülkenberg with Pastor Maldonado in 2011. Without an F1 ride, the German spent the year as Force India’s test and reserve driver – in the cockpit on Grand Prix Fridays but a frustrated spectator come Sunday.

His patience was rewarded with a Force India race seat as Paul di Resta’s team-mate for the 2012 F1 World Championship. Fifth in the European GP on Valencia’s harbourside circuit, he then qualified fourth for his home race at Hockenheim. Fourth in the Belgian GP was the best result of his career so far but Hülkenberg’s most impressive performance was reserved for Interlagos once more. Excellent in mixed conditions, the slick-shod Hülkenberg charged from sixth on the grid to take the lead on lap 18. He withstood constant pressure for 30 laps until Lewis Hamilton crashed into him while attempting to pass. Hülkenberg finished fifth – a podium lost but his reputation enhanced.

He joined Sauber for 2013 amid rumours that this was an audition for engine-supplier Ferrari. The team initially struggled to develop its C32 but Hülkenberg starred after the summer break. He qualified third at Monza (ahead of both works Ferraris) before finishing in a fine fifth position. Even better, he was fourth in Korea despite pressure from both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Now consistently qualifying in Q3, he declined the opportunity to replace the unpaid Kimi Räikkönen at Lotus for the last couple of races. He finished his single season with Sauber 10th in the drivers’ championship.

Overlooked by McLaren and Ferrari once more, he returned to Force India in 2014 with Mercedes-Benz engines offering the hope of a more competitive campaign. Six top-six finishes in the first seven races showed great consistency and he qualified fourth at Silverstone. However, Force India lacked the budget to develop its VJM07 and Hülkenberg eventually faded to ninth overall.

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