Back door at Red Bull? Hullkenberg waves a once-in-a-lifetime chance

Although the 60-rounds on the demanding Nuremberg ring had demanded a lot of things from him, the strength of Nico Hullkenberg almost always suffices for a striking answer.

Not so bad for a half-day worker”, the Formula One pilot explained the “RTL” microphone in the typical humorous and at the same time self-stironic way. Racing Point used him for the third time this year at the Eifel Grand Prix, and the 33-year-old convinced from starting position 20 with an impressive catch up to eight places and thus into the points.

significantly more behaved, though confident, then sounded Hilkenberg’s answer to the question of what his strong performance means for the season 2021.” There are still talks about whether he will return to the royal class as a full-time driver, but “it will take some time” until a final decision is made. Because the cockpits in Formula One are hard to compete with.

“You can’t evaluate this high enough”

Hullkenberg is not considered to be one of the best drivers for 2021 who are still without a contract only since his spontaneous vocation at the Nurburgring. Only shortly before qualifying had Racing Point team leader Otmar Szafnauer recruited the German, who then landed on the last starting point without a single training round, but worked his way forward in the race and was subsequently elected “Driver of the Day” by the fans. This is a great achievement on a very difficult track,”said”ntv”motor sports expert Felix Gorner:”It is not possible to evaluate this high enough.”

For Gorner, the question is therefore not whether Hilkenberg will be back in Formula One next season, but for which team. How the 33-year-old “can move a car at the limit without training” impressed Gorner.

Without training on the one hand, because Hullkenberg made his first rounds in the pink painted RP20 in qualifying. And on the other hand, because he’s “not very trained”, says the “ntv” expert. Which isn’t because Hullkenberg doesn’t keep himself in shape in private, it’s because that the load in the racing car simply cannot be fully trained.

The hottest track leads to Haas

This was also reported by the auxiliary pilot himself: “Throughout the half of the race the neck has broken in.” The forces especially in the fast curves are so great, even the best preparation does not prevent this exhaustion.” Physically, it was not enough,”said Hullkenberg, to attack Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari ahead of him in the final phase.

That he had put himself in this position at all was”good publicity for my staff”, as Hullkenberg said. He can use it because the vacancies in the F1 driver’s field are becoming fewer and fewer, but he would like to fill one.

“The best option is certainly in Haas,” says Gorner, because “Team leader Gunther Steiner keeps great pieces on Nico Hullkenberg.” Even before this season there were rumors of German involvement in the American racing stable, Of which pilots Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean have rarely convinced.

Is something going on with Red Bull?

An engagement with Alfa Romeo seems possible, since the Swiss have not yet awarded a cockpit for 2021. But there is much to suggest that Mick Schumacher will rise to Formula One alongside the experienced Kimi Riding King. However, Gorner brings another option into play, one that would give Hullkenberg a victorious car for the first time: Red Bull.

Max Verstappen is indisputable there, after all the Dutch is solely responsible for it, That the Mercedes pilots Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas do not represent every victory among themselves. His teammate Alexander Albon, on the other hand, does not yet fulfil the great hopes associated with his promotion of Toro Rosso (now Alpha Tauri). During the current season, Albon went to the podium eight times, and thus always, when he reached the goal, only once did Albon go und er the top three. In the driver’s rating, the Thai country is behind Sergio P er ez in the weaker rated Racing Point, although Perez even missed two races due to his Corona infection.

Therefore, it is quite conceivable that Red Bull will change his number two next season. Because Red Bull Motorsport Chief Helmut Marko, looking at the great distance between his pilots over the past few weeks, stressed time and again: “Albon has to perform, then he stays.” On the Nurburgring ring he did not succeed, because he only negotiated a time penalty for causing a collision and shortly afterwards had to give up the race prematurely.

Hulk and constipation on the same wavelength

Gorner therefore assumes: “If Albon’s shape curve goes down towards the end of the season, It would be an unusual obligation for Red Bull, after all, the Austrians are actually training their offspring on the sister team Alpha Tauri, formerly Toro Rosso. In comparison to the nine-time racing champion Verstappen, however, Daniel Kvyat and Pierre Gasly failed at this last step. If Albon is also found not to be good enough, Hullkenberg’s chance may lie in the fact that Red Bull may not trust anyone from his own junior program to challenge his understanding.

“What speaks for Hullkenberg is his experience and his bite,” says Gorner. To this end, the 33-year-old has a “very good wire” for the ten years younger understanding, “the two understand each other, speak Dutch to each other.” Such mutual understanding is not to be underestimated, as Red Bull had to say twice: 2010 collided Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in Turkey, 2018 in Azerbaijan, it was between Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Does Hilkenberg make the bottas?

As much Formula One teams want their drivers to drive each other to the highest performance, they hate it so much when this conflict ends in broken front wings and slashed tires. Perhaps Red Bull will take an example of Mercedes, who, after Nico Rosberg’s surprising career, has put on a second driver, who can and should challenge Lewis Hamilton, but is in doubt. Because the tough duels between Rosberg and Hamilton ended up in the same way several times in a constricted face at the command post, or as in Spain 2016 with two broken bolts in the gravel bed.

A scenario that Gorner considers impossible in the potential pair of Verstappen/Hullkenberg: “Nico is one, The German could have a role similar to that of Valtteri Bottas, the Rosberg successor to Mercedes. Because even if the serial killer doesn’t communicate it openly, the Finn behind Hamilton is the clear number two: close without becoming seriously dangerous. Red Bull has been looking for such a number two behind bars for years. Hullkenberg could fill this gap. Whether this becomes more than just a plausible theory remains to be seen.

Torben Siemer

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