Yesterday Sahara Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg has won the Le Mans 24 Hours on his first attempt with Porsche, teaming up with Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy and being the first active Formula One driver since Johnny Herbert in 1991 to win Le Mans.
With just over an hour and a half remaining, Hulkenberg took over the race-leading #19 919 Hybrid from Bamber. Comfortably a lap ahead of the second Porsche, Hulkenberg had an easy stroll – after a long 24 hours – to the chequered flag.
The #19 beat a fellow Porsche entry driven by former F1 driver Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard. Webber and company had initially led the race but a one-minute time penalty due to a yellow infringement cost them dearly.
It also allowed the #19, who early in the race had lost ground during a safety car period, to take over in the eighth hour and from there they never looked back.
Porsche triumphed in the iconic event ahead of Audi, who had a troublesome morning that included several unscheduled pitstops.
But it is fantastic for Porsche to have won Le Mans for the first time in 17 years with an amazing display that left their competitors Audi in their wake and this will be a warning sign for all rivals that Porsche cannot be underestimated.
As for Hulkenberg, it is incredible to have won Le Mans at your first attempt alongside two other outstanding drivers and this will be an experience that he will never ever forget. And this result shows what I have been saying for the past two years now; why hasn’t any top team signed him for F1?
Hulkenberg has the experience, talent and passion to succeed in the sport and has delivered throughout his career so far and has the potential to become a Grand Prix winner and a World Champion. But with this result yesterday, many people will be wondering if he will get signed up for potentially Ferrari in 2016/2017 or even move to the WEC full time.
I would say to Hulkenberg myself if you cannot get a top seat by 2017, then maybe move to the WEC which would give him the best chance of fighting for wins and championships that he should be doing. After all, he is a racing driver and he wants to win in whatever he competes in. If F1 cannot allow him to do that, then maybe the WEC can.
Overall, that is up to Hulkenberg to answer these questions that the media will be asking him over the next few weeks and do whatever he thinks is right for his future. In my opinion, there’s no question that Hulkenberg deserves a top seat in Formula One and it would be the biggest injustice ever if he didn’t as he deserves it. But as we know, the sport is a cruel business and not everything works out how they would like and I hope in this case, Hulkenberg gets the F1 reward that many would like him to get and that is worthy of the talented driver that he is.