Nico Hulkenberg reckons he can get to within three-tenths of Max Verstappen on his ‘very good days’ as he adds he isn’t desperate to be in F1.
From being linked to Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing, Hulkenberg is now put against Verstappen, especially after Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko noted that they only have the German and Sergio Perez to select if they go outside their junior programme.
The policy of Red Bull is always their own programme but after multiple good drivers like Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz left the stable, they had to rush in other juniors like Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon in the senior seat, before their time.
Both have done well but against Verstappen, the comparison falls flat. Red Bull insists Albon is the preferred choice if he performs but it remains unclear about his future. At the moment, apart from the Dutchman, only Gasly seems safe with a F1 seat.
Both Albon and Daniil Kvyat would be worried, especially with Red Bull bringing forward Yuki Tsunoda’s test with AlphaTauri to November albeit in a 2018 car. He was scheduled to test the 2020 machine at Yas Marina circuit, post the end of the current season.
In the meantime, Hulkenberg can only hope to get a chance. He came close when Marko revealed that the German was called by him during Eifel GP amid COVID-19 scare for Albon. In the same interview, he detailed on what the Thai has to do.
In all honesty, Marko noted that no driver would be able to get to three-tenths of Verstappen. When asked about the same, while praising the Dutchman, Hulkenberg told motorsport-magazine.com that he can get to it, on his ‘very good days’.
“On my very good days, yes,” said Hulkenberg. “In terms of speed, Max is one, if not the fastest and an absolute killer. It is a huge task to have him as a teammate already. I would like to measure myself against him. Let’s see if it will come to that.
“[At the moment] it [Red Bull] is the best option in terms of car performance. That’s a fact. But beyond that, three F1 cockpits are still available,” added Hulkenberg, without naming them. The only other teams to confirm their line-up are Haas and Alfa Romeo.
Talking about being approached by Marko at Nurburging, Hulkenberg put it down to good relations and also the current impression of the German with Racing Point. “We always had a good relationship,” he said. “Red Bull has a good competitive car and want to achieve the best possible result. You need good drivers for that.
“This year I wasn’t racing all the time, but the races I did probably made a bit of an impression [for him to call me up],” Hulkenberg added, while stating that he cannot be certain what’s to come for 2021 as COVID-19 is still to linger on and anything can happen.
“I think we still need a little more patience to get a final answer to that,” said Hulkenberg. “The weekend helped and refreshed my name to everyone. But it will take a little more time until we have clarity on that. I assume that Corona will be with us for a while and that teams will still have the same problems as this year.
“We all have this risk of being infected. If it is so, this ‘business model’ that I currently have may still be the same next year. I am very keen to do this again permanently but not desperate, so it has to be on good terms and with good opportunity. It is a process, there are talks but still un-decided, so lets see where it takes me,” summed up Hulkenberg.
Here’s Nico Hulkenberg on troubles he had during Eifel GP
Here’s Helmut Marko on Nico Hulkenberg call
Additional information/translation courtesy of @Vetteleclerc