"Hulk" on his first jobs, champagne showers and co.
Nico Hülkenberg talks about the start of his career, his personal milestones, and the biggest success of his life to date.
Nico Hülkenberg was meant to join his father's company. That would have made him a forwarding agent now. An occupation that requires speed. But the Formula 1 driver sponsored by DEKRA chose another job that places even more emphasis on speed. There is always a first time for the man from Emmerich, both in his private life and in motorsport.
The first time …
… in a kart.
I was seven years old when I first sat in a kart, and it was love at first sight.
… spraying champagne on the podium.
Let me think. Was there champagne in karting? Yes! There was champagne to spray. But I can't remember when that was. But I was definitely still a teenager.
… driving with DEKRA lettering on your car or cap.
I remember that exactly. 2004 in the German Karting Championship (DKM).
… working at your father's company.
I did my apprenticeship as a forwarding agent. But as a small boy I was always helping out. While I was still at school, I spent most afternoons at the company and helped with reloading or washing trucks. I was always involved in the family business and it was a nice little bit of extra income for me for a long time.
… in a Formula 1 car.
My first Formula 1 test was in December 2007, for Williams in Jerez. It was a fantastic feeling, it was just great. I was actually also a little bit overwhelmed by the leap from Formula 3 to Formula 1. It's so fast, you have so much power behind you, the brakes were tremendous. My head almost fell off after 60 laps. For the first time, these incredible forces were pushing on my neck – on my whole body actually. I wasn't as physically developed or as well trained as today. I was shattered. However, I was simply overwhelmed, impressed and happy. An incredibly fantastic experience.
… in a Formula 1 race.
That was in Bahrain in 2010. However, my first Formula 1 race didn't go too well. I span on the second or third lap of the race, severely damaging the car and preventing a good result early on. But it was my first race and I was incredibly tense. I was nervous, I was excited – like a schoolchild on the first day of school.
… in pole position.
In the same season I got my first pole in Brazil. In the moment directly after the in-lap I couldn't believe it. My engineer had to confirm several times that I really had got pole. And later on I was proud of my performance. It was a fantastic lap and a great success with the car at that time. I still enjoy looking back on that today.
… catching a whiff of success in Formula 1.
2012, also in Brazil, I fought hard with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and could have got the win. A spot on the podium was likely. If I hadn't had an accident. But I still think that this was one of my best races in Formula 1. Naturally it was a shame that the collision happened.
… winning in Le Mans.
The win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the greatest achievement of my career and my life. I don't need to say any more about it. I still have goose bumps all over my body.