The first driver for the third Porsche 919 Hybrid to be entered in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2015 has been signed: Nico Hülkenberg will join the Porsche Team.
The 27-year-old German will be the first active Formula One driver since 2009 to take the start of the famous endurance event. Before entering the race at the Sarthe on June 13/14, Nico will race the second generation of the innovative Le Mans Prototype on May 2 in the six-hour race at Spa. However, this will not be his first experience with a Porsche Hybrid race car; back in 2010 Nico took the 911 GT3-R Hybrid for a test run to the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Nico Hülkenberg: “Porsche and Le Mans – this combination probably attracts every race driver. I’ve been a Porsche fan for a long time and have been watching their return to the LMP1 class closely. The desire grew to drive that car at Le Mans. I am very pleased the 2015 Formula One calendar allows for it and I’m grateful to my Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s generosity to let me go for it. Now it’s up to me to work hard to satisfy both commitments.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “We are very much looking forward to taking Nico on board. We’ve got complete faith in his driving skills and for sure he will fit well in our works team. The ability to integrate is of extreme importance in endurance racing. For a Formula One driver it is an unusual situation to accept that his own results are the sum of three drivers’ performance.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Having caught the interest of another world class driver like Nico is validation for the job the entire Porsche LMP1 crew had done in our first WEC season. Now we will prepare Nico for his new challenges such as dealing with the traffic of the slower GT cars and racing into the Le Mans night. We have got a road map in place which should enable him to exploit his driving abilities at his Le Mans debut. We’re looking forward to working with Nico and we want to thank the Sahara Force India F1 Team and team principal Vijay Mallya for loaning him to us.”
Nico Hülkenberg was born on August 18 in 1987 in Emmerich in Germany. Since 2010 he has competed in the FIA Formula One World Championship. In 2014 he achieved his best overall championship position so far by coming ninth. In his debut season he took his first – and, to date, only – F1 pole position in a Williams, which was a less well-performing car in those days. His best Grand Prix result was a fourth place in 2012 for Force India at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps – exactly the place where he will have his race debut with the Porsche 919 Hybrid in 2015. Nico Hülkenberg entered Formula One after he became 2009 GP2 champion, having begun in karting at the age of nine.
This could mean that the door has been closed on a possible move into the Porsche LMP programme by Jenson Button, we should know more in the next few days.