Nico Hulkenberg doesn’t think he will be able to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2017, because he suspects that the Formula 1 calendar will once again feature a clash with the endurance classic.
After delivering Porsche victory at La Sarthe in 2015 alongside teammates Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, Hulkenberg was prevented from being able to defend his crown by a clash between this year’s Le Mans race and the new European Grand Prix in Baku.
It’s a topic that has sparked much criticism within the motorsport community, although FIA President Jean Todt insisted that the overlap was “impossible to avoid”.
Speaking to Motorsport.com about a possible return to Le Mans in 2017, Hulkenberg, who remains contracted to Force India next year, said he feared there would be no opportunity to do so.
“At the moment it’s still far away, but I guess I have a feeling the calendar will be clashing again,” said the German.
“I'm pretty sure we [Porsche and I] would be talking. I mean it’s still a long way to look ahead, we have only just started this year, and I don't know what will be the case next year.”
Teams, not the sport, to blame
Since Hulkenberg’s win, other F1 drivers – notably Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo – have made their desire to compete at Le Mans known.
Asked if the sport should be more open to allowing its drivers to race elsewhere, Hulkenberg added: “I think F1 is not holding back drivers.
“But obviously if you are contracted to a team of a manufacturer they would not allow you to go and drive for another manufacturer in a different series.
“I think that is the problem.”
Interview by Oleg Karpov