Le Mans winner Hulkenberg feeling on top of the world ahead of Austrian Grand Prix

Nico Hulkenberg (right) celebrates victory at Le Mans with Nick Tandy (left) and Earl Bamber (Photo James Beckett)
Nico Hulkenberg (right) celebrates victory at Le Mans with Nick Tandy (left) and Earl Bamber (Photo James Beckett)

Nico Hulkenberg will arrive at the Red Bull Ring in Austria for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, round eight of the FIA F1 World Championship, feeling on top of the world having won last Sunday’s 2015 Le Mans 24-Hour Race, writes James Beckett.

The Sahara Force India driver formed part of the Porsche factory squad at Le Mans, winning the world famous twice round the clock race in the number 19 Porsche 919-Hybrid with team-mates Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

Currently placed 12th in the F1 Drivers’ Standings, the German racer described his Le Mans triumph as ‘The greatest day of my career’.

He said: “It was a remarkable opportunity to be part of the Porsche team this year. I raced at Spa-Francorchamps in preparation for Le Mans, and all I can say is that my team-mates did an amazing job. We were fast throughout the race and once we took the lead we were able to control the pace at the head of the field.”

Hulkenberg’s car eventually won the race by a full lap from the second-placed Porsche 919-Hybrid driven by former Silverstone British Grand Prix winner Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.

Hulkenberg added: “For me the desire has always been to be successful in Formula 1.

“Single-seater racing for me is very important and really forms a backbone to your career as a driver. To be handed the opportunity to drive for Porsche at Le Mans has been a dream for me, and to win is very special.

“ I hope this success can continue in F1 this season as I do my best for Force India, and I very much hope that I can return to Le Mans next year to defend my title.”

A point-scorer in F1 races in Australia and Canada so far this season, Hulkenberg feels that the Austrian Red Bull Ring track will suit his team, adding: “We have all been working very hard as a team in recent weeks as we look to improve the performance of our car.

“I think after scoring points in Canada, I am in good shape for this race and I want to again finish well for the team.”

Lewis Hamilton leads the race for the world championship for the Brackley-based Mercedes AMG Petronas team. Hamilton was a dominant victor in the last round in Canada, and the British driver enjoys a 17 point championship lead over his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton said this week: “This should be another great race. I like this track and I think the Mercedes cars will perform well here. Everyone should see another enjoyable F1 race.”

The Austrian Grand Prix was won last year by Nico Rosberg, and he said: “I won this race last year and obviously I want to do so again this season. I want to keep the pressure on Lewis and not allow him to establish a big lead in the race for the title. The next few races will be very important as far as winning the championship is concerned.”