JUNE 21, 2015
Le Mans bow for big F1 names unlikely saya Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg does not think a flood of F1 rivals will now follow him to Le Mans.
Perhaps powered by his Porsche triumph last weekend, the German on Saturday defied all expectations by qualifying fifth -- one race before Force India debuts its long-awaited 'B' car.
Hulkenberg, eleven places ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez in Austria, described it as a "miracle".
So the question is whether the German, pushing to move into a better team for 2016 as his Force India deal runs out, is now riding the crest of his Le Mans wave.
"The win was good for the ego and the confidence but I would not have driven more slowly without Le Mans," he insisted, "and I was already strong in Montreal."
And as for whether any of his F1 colleagues will now follow in his wake and also reawaken their careers at Le Mans, Hulkenberg is not so sure.
Fernando Alonso, for one, came close to also featuring in the Porsche lineup this year, but the move was reportedly scuppered by McLaren-Honda.
"Maybe next year," the Spaniard said in Austria. "I don't know."
Hulkenberg doubts it.
"I think it's more the teams than anything that wouldn't allow the drivers (to go)," he told the New York Times.
"Obviously this (Force India) is a private team, Vijay (Mallya) is a big racing fan, so I'm lucky that he gave me permission.
"But the other teams ... if you are another manufacturer, a Ferrari or Mercedes driver, wouldn't get permission to go into a Porsche. That's just how life is," added Hulkenberg.