The World Champion that could be

There is one driver in Formula 1 who doesn't have the equipment to reach his true potential as a World Champion...yet.

In Formula 1, we are always looking around for who the next World Champion will be. Right now, it seems more and more like Nico Rosberg. His father Keke is a former champion himself and with how strong Mercedes is at the moment, Nico could very well join that elite club in 2014.

Others want to argue that Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull seat will be the next new face to earn the crown. Some want to even make a case for rookie Kevin Magnussen, who has already blown McLaren away after placing 2nd in his debut GP. These three are all very capable racers, but I can't help but look towards someone who I feel is better than them all. A driver that deserves, more than anyone, a top Formula 1 seat. A driver that could quickly assert himself as the one everyone else aspires to be in the right situation. A driver, who I believe, could easily win three championships with equipment comparable to his abilities.

Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM07
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM07

Photo by: XPB Images

I'm talking about Force India's highly talented Nico Hulkenberg. The season is three races old and he's currently holding a strong 3rd in the standings behind the two Mercedes drivers - the best of the rest if you will. Race after race, I watch him out-duel World Champions, in inferior equipment nonetheless, and finish higher than his car is supposed to. Every time I see him drive like that, it conjures up some very poignant feelings and I can't help but wonder what could be.

He qualifies for Q3 more times than not and was quite impressive in the Sauber car last year as well. He scored points in six of the final eight races of 2013 and ended the year a respectable 10th in the standings - scoring 45 more points than teammate Esteban Gutierrez. The admirable performances don't stop there though. This German phenom procured his one and only career pole in a Williams. He was on dry-weather tires in damp conditions, yet was able to lap faster than than the likes of Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, and Button. All these results epitomize Nico's innate ability to wheel a race car better than most and present incontrovertible proof to what he is truly capable of. Good luck arguing otherwise.

Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1

Photo by: XPB Images

In 2012, he nearly won the Brazilian GP for Force India after leading 30 laps (more than any other driver), before an incident with Lewis Hamilton blighted his charge and relegated him to 5th. 'The Hulk's' resume before F1 is quite outstanding as well. He's earned championships in karting, Formula BMW, A1 Grand Prix, Formula 3, and most noticeably, GP2 in 2009. To be frank, he's dominated and smashed records in almost everything he's ever competed in. Michael Schumacher's former manager Willi Webber once proclaimed that Nico would be the second coming of Schumi.

It pains me to see this now 26 year-old, four year veteran of Formula 1 still driving for second-tier operations. In 2014, Nico seems to be in the best position possible to finally capture his first victory. With the now superior Mercedes power, Force India has been running strong and if Hulkenberg's superb performances aren't enough evidence of that, just look at his teammate Sergio Perez, who made it onto the podium in Bahrain.

2014 is going to be a year to watch Mercedes dominate, Red Bull play catch up, drivers fighting for No. 1 status at multiple teams, and to see Nico Hulkenberg finally break through that glass ceiling. I can say with strong conviction and complete confidence that he will win a GP this year. As for getting a ride with a top level team, that's in the hands of the powers that be. Someone better get him out of this catatonic state and into a top-tier ride soon though, before this extraordinary talent is lost to time.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg , Nico Hulkenberg , Sergio Perez , Daniel Ricciardo , Esteban Gutierrez , Kevin Magnussen
Teams Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Williams
Article type Commentary
Tags bahrain, daniel ricciardo, force india, kevin magnussen, nico hulkenberg, nico rosberg, sauber, williams