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Hulkenberg: Holding F1's no-podium record actually speaks for my F1 skills

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg believes being the Formula 1 driver with the most starts without ever standing on a podium "actually speaks for me" in terms of his racing skills.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Hulkenberg has started 193 F1 races – not including the 2013 Melbourne, 2015 Spa and 2020 Silverstone races he failed to start – with a best result of fourth.

He achieved that result three times for what was then called Force India and Sauber between 2012 and 2016, but had several other podium near misses.

These include his crash with Lewis Hamilton after leading much of the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and the slow second pitstop that meant he missed out on a likely third in the 2016 Monaco GP.

The driver with the next highest race total without an F1 podium is Adrian Sutil, with 128 starts.

When asked if he ever felt frustrated at his lack of F1 silverware even when considering he has never driven for a top-line team in the championship, Hulkenberg replied: "That's stating a fact there.

"Obviously, when you start thinking about it that's a little bit frustrating. Because every racing driver back then and even now wants to win, ideally. But at the same time, I've never had the car.

"I've had good cars and also had opportunities to deliver the podium, but then for various reasons it never really happened. Never clicked and happened.

"But, to be honest, I'm still in a good, happy place – enjoying myself. And if I reflect back, of course there were things I could've done better.

"But I'm not bitter or frustrated about it. I'm in a good place and going to hit I think 200 grands prix later in the season – somewhere around Mexico [in October].

"And whilst not having the podium, I think if I would be so bad I would've not managed to stick around [for] 200 grands prix – so, there must be some good in there too somewhere."

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hulkenberg also said his chances to score a podium in all his F1 experience had come down to "less than a handful" of opportunities.

"I'm here in the current Formula 1 season, working day-in, day-out and trying to maximise the season," he said of how he now views his career, which has had a late revival with Haas after Hulkenberg was dropped by Renault for 2020.

"I have to maximise what I have. And the opportunities in the past, unfortunately they didn't work. Of course, that was very frustrating at the time, but that is what it is.

"There is that and someone told me the other day there is this statistic 'most races without a podium'.

"But there is another statistic like 'most points without a victory or without a podium in F1' [Hulkenberg has 530, ahead of Sutil's 124]. My point is that statistic speaks for me, actually."

Following his impressive junior racing career and Brazil 2010 pole for Williams, Hulkenberg was expected to be signed to a leading F1 squad and was regularly linked with a move to Ferrari a decade ago.

But that never came to pass and he has since spent his long F1 career racing mainly for midfield squads.

Hulkenberg, who is 6ft tall, says he is height "definitely hasn't helped" and believes he missed out on chances to race for better teams as a result of F1's weight and cockpit packaging requirements than favour smaller drivers.

It is understood that Hulkenberg's height was one of the reasons why Ferrari decided against signing him for 2013.

"I've never had an answer where [teams] said, 'Sorry, no – we turned you down because you're too tall'," said Hulkenberg. "Probably they wouldn't tell me straight to my face.

"But I'm pretty sure that it has, yeah, hindered the odd opportunity and occasion to jump to a top car.

"Packaging issues, less space, more weight, which is not the right way around in this business."

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