F1’s Hulkenberg, Mallya, put Le Mans in focus

Jun.16 (GMM) Fernando Alonso has named Nico Hulkenberg as one of the very best drivers in F1 today.

Before German Hulkenberg won Le Mans on debut at the weekend, the Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 had asked Alonso to nominate his top-three drivers on the grid.

“He chose Hamilton, Hulkenberg, and after thinking some more, Ricciardo,” read a report in Spain’s El Confidencial.

Alonso – whilst controversially excluding Sebastian Vettel – is not alone in rating Hulkenberg highly, as his Porsche stablemate Mark Webber says the 27-year-old “deserves a better seat in formula one”.

Hulkenberg’s Le Mans win comes at an awkward time for F1, as drivers and spectators are beginning to question if it remains the most challenging motor racing category.

Asked why he pushed to combine F1 with prototype sports cars this year, Hulkenberg told f1-insider: “Well, the opportunity to work with a brand like Porsche doesn’t come along every day.

“Naturally I asked myself if it would affect my formula one career, by having to adapt to a different driving style, but I don’t think so.”

He also told Der Spiegel that he has enjoyed the contrasting atmosphere of the world endurance championship.

“There is not the egoism and the fierce competition as there is between the F1 drivers,” Hulkenberg revealed. “There is a togetherness (at Le Mans) — a completely different atmosphere.”

Vijay Mallya, who watched Hulkenberg’s triumph first hand, is taking a lot of credit for allowing his full-time Force India driver to risk his life at Le Mans.

The Indian describes the achievement as “incredible”.

“The 24 hours is an amazing race that demands total commitment from drivers and cars,” said Mallya.

“Nico’s performance displayed his immense talent and made all of us at Force India proud. I truly hope he will be boosted by this success and translate it into another great performance in Austria.”

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