GPUpdate gets to know... Nico Hülkenberg
3 November 2017 – F1 drivers answer hundreds of questions at each Grand Prix, but how much do we know about their lives away from the track? GPUpdate.net is on a mission to find out more, continuing with Nico Hülkenberg.
Describe your perfect day…
Since I'm a bit of a morning person, I would get up not too late, maybe 08:00, 08:30. I would chill out, have a coffee, have breakfast, in no rush. I'd watch a movie or some series. I would go a run, then have a big, fat lunch after that. I'd have an after lunch nap, then back on the couch, put the feet up and watch something else, or play a game. In the evening I'd get some food and meet some friends.
Hmm. That's a deep question, isn't it? (Looks to the Renault press officer) Would you know? (Adopting 'The Hulk' nickname?) (Laughs). It's tough, I don't know. (Long pause) Removing my nail polish two years ago… I'm f**king with you now!
We know you are, Nico…
What's the biggest mistake you've ever made?
I love these sort of questions… (Smiles). Even if I know something that doesn't mean I would tell you, necessarily, you understand that too? I don't know about a mistake, but I think switching teams at the end of 2012, from Force India to Sauber, I look back at and feel it was not the best decision.
How long do you spend getting ready in the morning?
Oh, not long at all! A couple of minutes!
Do you prefer a lie in or an afternoon nap?
An afternoon nap, for sure!
It's about the right balance, I think, but mainly, probably if I look at my lifestyle, it's nights in…
What's worse, a traffic jam or airport queuing?
Probably queuing at the airport, because in a traffic jam I just use the hard shoulder! (Smiles).
How do you kill time at an airport?
I call friends, especially when you're in different time zones and you have time, and they're having to be up, so catching up with good friends that you haven't talked to for a long time. I also listen to music and eat!
How much does your private jet service help with travelling?
Within Europe, it does, for sure, but intercontinental you're still going for commercial and have airport time to kill!
What's the funniest thing you've ever done?
Oh man, so many things! I can't even remember all of them! Back at school, it was pretty funny, everyone had a good laugh, we put a fart pillow on the chair of our teacher's desk, and when she sat down it went right off – that was pretty hilarious.
Straight to detention with that one…
No, she was relaxed about it! (Laughs)
That song from The Bodyguard, by Whitney Houston (I Will Always Love You). That was actually the last karaoke song that I did!
How many languages can you speak?
Just three: Dutch, German and English.
Which language would you most like to learn?
Italian. It's a beautiful language and I like Italy.
Street circuit or permanent circuit?
Street! It's just more challenging, more exciting really.
Which is your favourite Grand Prix on the calendar?
I was a big fan of Korea (Korea International Circuit). I really liked that track, it's a shame that we're not there anymore. I had a couple of good races there, but it was just a really cool track, great flow, a bit of elevation – it was fun.
Do you prefer sweet or savoury food?
I have a sweet tooth! All sorts. I love chocolate, I love cake, afternoon cake! Desserts… tiramisu. In the morning, Nutella. You name it, I have it!
One meal, one drink. What would you choose?
(Laughs). My final meal would be a nice, big, fat bowl of some really good pasta, as I love pasta dishes. And some ginger ale.
What's your favourite film?
My favourite movie… that's tough, man. I couldn't really name you one!
What's your favourite TV show?
Recently I've been watching a bit of Narcos and Billions.
I don't read!
What's your favourite band?
House music, but mainstream really. I like music, but I'm not so into it that I know names and albums and that stuff.
Countryside or city?
Summer or winter?
If you had to take one driver to a desert island with you, who would it be, and why?
(Long pause). Which Germans do we have? [Pascal] Wehrlein and [Sebastian] Vettel, right? Hmm. I probably wouldn't take a German. Maybe Max [Verstappen]. I have a good laugh with him, he's crazy, so I'm sure we would do some fun stuff.
Actually, wait, I would take Kevin [Magnussen] with me! (Smiles). I missed Kevin. Who I wouldn't take? Checo [Sergio Pérez]. (Laughs). Time's up for him! (After so many years as team-mates at Force India).
Who's the funniest team-mate you've ever had?
[Rubens] Barrichello. He was at the end of his F1 career, I was at the beginning of my F1 career, and he was just super relaxed and crazy. Sometimes he was full of s**t, but in a funny way! He was a really funny guy.
Who's the best driver you've raced against who didn't reach F1?
Hmm. Probably Loïc Duval. I think he's a massive talent. From our F3 days, karting days…
What's your best ever overtake?
I don't know! I can't remember these things!
Your best ever race, perhaps?
Brazil 2012. (In wet conditions, moving into the lead from sixth on the grid, before a collision with Lewis Hamilton).
Would you rather win races, but not the title? Or win the title, but no races?
Win the… actually, that's a good one. It depends which one would pay the biggest bonus! (Smiles).
Yeah, it is, but when you're World Champion that's forever in the history books. Winning races as well, but not to that extent. I don't know, it's a tough one. Let me dwell on it!
What's the weirdest question you've ever been asked?
If it's one of these, we'll be happy…
Yeah, the one about the island! (Smiles).
Interview by: Mike Seymour