Sahara Force India’s German driver Nico Hulkenberg (24) is pleased to be part of Formula One this year as he views it as one of the most competitive seasons the sport has ever witnessed.
Five different drivers from five different teams have graced the top step of the podium in as many races and an unprecedented sixth new winner at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix will definitely do it’s part in marking this season as one of the most memorable — if not the toughest — ever.
“In my memory, yes. Even if you ask people who have been in the sport for over two decades, I’m sure they will agree. It’s amazing,” Hulkenberg told MiD DAY from Monaco via a telephonic conference yesterday, when asked if this season beats previous ones in excitement and competitiveness.
This year especially comes as a relief for those F1 lovers, who were tired of watching reigning double world champion Sebastian Vettel dominate the sport in the last two seasons. Especially last year, when Vettel won more than 50 per cent of the races (11 out of 19).
But this season is a different story altogether. McLaren started strong with Brit driver Jenson Button winning the season-opening Australian GP in March. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took the second race in Malaysia before Nico Rosberg gifted Mercedes its first victory in 57 years with his maiden triumph in China. Vettel’s fortunes finally favoured him in protest-hit Bahrain, with experts expecting him to cling on to the winner’s spot in the coming few races.
But Williams driver Pastor Maldonado had other plans, as he shocked the F1 world becoming the first-ever Venezuelan driver to win a GP in Spain earlier this month. Brit driver Lewis Hamilton looked brilliant in that race despite being relegated from pole to the back of the grid for a fuel irregularity. Hamilton still managed an eighth-place finish, clearly indicating his best is yet to come.
With 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen and F1 legend Michael Schumacher also in the fray, there is no reason to rule out a sixth new winner this week. Hulkenberg agreed: “It’s pretty open. Lewis Hamilton has not won a race yet. He is a strong contender. There are a lot of quick cars. Anything is possible.”
Teammate Paul di Resta, a Monaco resident, is hoping for a point in the place he calls home nowadays. “Winning a point is the target. To achieve it is another thing but we are working on it,” said the 26-year-old Scot, who has earned 15 points for Force India this season. Hulkenberg, meanwhile, has managed only three points with a ninth-place finish in Malaysia and a 10th-place in Spain earlier this month.