Winning races in every category before reaching Formula One, Hulkenberg is undoubtedly a hugely talented driver. However, he is yet to land a drive with one of the top teams, despite his strong reputation in the paddock. Making his F1 debut in Williams, he has also raced for Force India and, briefly, Sauber. But 2017 is a new venture, as he moves to Renault with hopes of better success.
Hulkenberg began karting at the age of 10. He won the German Junior Kart Championship when he was 15 years old. He had 2 years in the German Kart Championship before moving to German Formula BMW in 2005. He won 8 races and claimed 9 pole positions, crowning him champion. He joined the German A1 GP series and won 9 races, this gave him the German title. Moving to Formula 3 Euroseries, Hulkenburg came 3rd overall – with 4 race wins. After impressing the Williams team in December testing, he was offered a place as test driver for 2008.
Testing for Williams and competing in F3 Euoroseries in 2008, he won the Formula 3 championship. A move to GP2 in 2009 saw Hulkenberg become the first rookie Champion since Lewis Hamilton in 2006. Since 2005, he is one of just 3 drivers to win the GP2 crown in his debut season. Progressing to F1 as a Williams driver in 2010, he had a good season and claimed a pole position at the Brazilian GP. Despite this, he was dropped by the Williams team in 2011 and became the test driver for Force India, making multiple practice appearances.
Racing again in 2012, this time for Force India, Nico frequently beat his more experienced team mate Di Resta. Impressing with a fourth place at Spa and a 5th in Valencia, he seemed set to move to Ferrari. However, Massa was signed instead and Hulkenberg went to Sauber. With a slow start to the season, in which he failed to start the first race, reliability soon improved and he found himself battling for 4th in Korea.
Hulkenberg moved back to Force India in 2014 and finished in the top ten in 15 out of 19 races. He finished the season in 9th overall, a long way ahead of team mate Perez. Unable to find a drive in a top team, he remained with the team up until the end of the 2016 season. During this time, he also won Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche.
In October 2016, it was announced that Hulkenberg would be making the switch to Renault for 2017.