Nico Hulkenberg says he turned down the Lotus Formula 1 team’s offer to replace Kimi Raikkonen in the final two races of 2013 because it was too big a risk.
The German Sauber driver, who has been linked with a 2014 drive with Lotus for several weeks, was one of the candidates for the seat after Raikkonen announced he would miss the season’s remaining grands prix in order to have back surgery. Hulkenberg, one of the stars of the season, is still seeking a drive for 2014, although Lotus’s new investor has told the team to sign him.
Lotus has now recruited Heikki Kovalainen to fill its vacancy for Austin and Interlagos. Hulkenberg admitted the two-race offer was appealing, but suggested he turned it down because it meant a more uncertain future.
“Of course it is attractive. It sounded attractive from the outside,” said Hulkenberg ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix. “But it’s for the last two races, which brings also some risk with it, and you have to see the bigger picture beyond those two races, and see what can happen then. And that’s why we came up with his decision.
“Stepping into a new car which you don’t know… If I had stepped in I don’t think people would have expected me to beat Romain [Grosjean] right away. He’s delivering very good results. So it was from that point of view.”
Hulkenberg confirmed he went to the Lotus factory to talk to team boss Eric Boullier also about a possible deal for 2014.
“I just went there to speak to Eric face to face about these two races and beyond that as well, because next year is important as well,” he said.
The German downplayed reports that it had been Sauber engine supplier Ferrari that had blocked his move to Lotus for the final two races.
“I don’t know where that comes from. I can’t see that. I wouldn’t know why either,” he said.