Nico Hulkenberg has joked that after being turned down by the team, seeing how well Red Bull are doing makes him want to cry.
As Alex Albon struggled to impress, Hulkenberg was linked with taking the Thai driver’s seat for this season throughout 2020. Ultimately though, the team opted to sign Sergio Perez instead.
The Mexican has since been handed perhaps the best car on the grid as Red Bull look to have surpassed Mercedes in the pecking order, with Max Verstappen winning the second race of the year in Imola.
Given that, Hulkenberg cannot help but hurt when he sees what he could have had, but does not think about it too much as his chances of taking the seat were ended by Perez’s victory in the penultimate race of 2020.
“I’d better not watch Red Bull because then I will cry”, he told Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport.
“I don’t think about it. I’ve been in talks with the team throughout the second half of last year.
“The last few races, that period when Perez started to do really well, that victory in Bahrain, then it was over.”
Welcome home, @HulkHulkenberg. 🤜🤛
Here's everything you need to know about the Hulk's new role as reserve and development driver for the 2021 season. #Hulkenback 💚
— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) April 8, 2021
Hulkenberg may not have a full-time seat this season but is still a part of the paddock as a test and reserve driver for Aston Martin and Mercedes.
He considers his role with the former team his main role though as the German squad usually have their Formula E drivers on standby.
“I’m more of the test driver for Aston Martin. Mercedes is only a small job, for a few races,” he added.
“Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries also drive in Formula E and the WEC, so they are not available a few times a year. For those races, I’m the man if something happens.”
Hulkenberg’s compatriot, Sebastian Vettel, has not made the best start to life at Aston Martin, failing to score points and being beaten by team-mate Lance Stroll in the first two races.
The more Vettel struggles, the more talk will grow of him perhaps retiring at the end of the year and if he were to do so, Hulkenberg would be favourite to replace him.
Nevertheless, the 33-year-old is backing his compatriot to improve.
“He will finish the season there, I think, but there is still something to come,” the German said.
“It takes a while, he doesn’t feel completely comfortable yet. You can see that on the stopwatch.
“But yes, it’s not my decision,” he said.