Hulkenberg to race LMP1 Porsche at Le Mans and Spa

2015 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Nico Hulkenberg will compete in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours for Porsche, the team has confirmed.

The Force India driver will also drive an LMP1 Porsche 919 in the Six Hours of Spa in May in the weekend between the Bahrain and Chinese Grands Prix. Le Mans takes place between the Canadian and Austrian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg said the chance to drive for Porsche at Le Mans was something that “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.”

Hulkenberg tested a hybrid Porsche 911 GT car while driving for Williams in 2010.

Porsche return to the highest class of endurance racing this year with its 919 Hybrid. Ex-Red Bull racer Mark Webber is among its drivers.

Porsche’s vice-president for LMP1 Fritz Enzinger said: “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.”

Andre Lotterer, who substituted for Kamui Kobayashi at Caterhaam in the Belgian Grand Prix, is the most recent active F1 driver to have enter Le Mans. Before him the most recent regular drivers to do so were Sebastian Bourdais in 2009, while racing for Toro Rosso, and Franck Montagny in 2006, while racing for Super Aguri.

2015 F1 season

Browse all 2015 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

60 comments on “Hulkenberg to race LMP1 Porsche at Le Mans and Spa”

  1. Awesome news! I wonder how many other current F1 drivers will be lining up for Le Mans next year!

    1. IT’S FANTASTIC ! 1 more viewer for Le Mans and Spa !

      Well done Hulk ! and well done Force India, time for the others to man up and allow their drivers to race !

      1. @fer-no65 couldn’t agree with you more. While its great for Nico to be able to tick off another dream on the wish list, it may also give him an opportunity to realise that he could want to race in the WEC when he retires F1 (I highly doubt he will left without a drive which will force him out of F1) and hopefully (if all goes well), he’ll have won the WDC before he retires

  2. Did he do a “reverse” Lotterer???

  3. That is awesome news! It’s been too long since Formula 1 drivers did any form of racing on the side, so hopefully this will open the door for other Formula 1 drivers as well (I’m looking at you, Fernando!). Also, Porsche has now confirmed seven drivers for next year, so it’s pretty obvious they will need a third car, which is sweet.

    For me personally, I’m very excited about this! I’m a big Hülkenberg fan, so for sure I will need to go to either Spa or Le Mans next year!

    1. Autosport reported last week they have confirmed an entry for a third car at both the Spa 6hr and Le mans. I believe for Le mans, Audi, Nissan and Porsche are entering three cars, but Toyota have not given any indication of adding a third yet.

      Eleven manufacturer cars in top class is going make for an epic event, and big names like Hulks are only going to make it better.

      1. As far as I knew nothing was confirmed yet? Not sure, but anyway, WEC is looking epic for next year. :)

          1. Fair enough :P

      2. Toyota already stated that they won’t enter a third car.

        1. Really? After what happened this year in Le Mans?

          1. The ACO might try to pressure Toyota into running more cars, although Toyota have been reluctant to do so because of the cost of running a third car.
            Back in 2012, for example, Toyota didn’t want to run a second car at Le Mans because they were trying to focus their limited resources onto a single car. It was only because the ACO bullied them into running a second car to make up for Peugeot withdrawing from the sport that Toyota eventually agreed to run a second car for Le Mans.

            Even Porsche and Audi only run third cars at Le Mans because the ACO allocates extra points for that third entry – outside of that, there is no real financial benefit to the teams to run a third car outside of that race.

      3. 3 cars epic in le mans but not f1?

        Whats the difference?

        1. Le Mans is a historic race that has been run 82 times. It has double points and is run 4 times the length of a typical WEC race.

          If there was a 6 hour F1 race at Monza or Silverstone, I’d be in favour of three cars for that specific event as well.

  4. Good on Force India for giving their blessing for this.

    I really hope this is not the only active F1 driver who we’ll see competing in the WEC and Le Mans 24 Hours…

    1. If I were a team boss I’d rather my drivers race in Le Mans mid-season than try and race rally cars in the off-season…

  5. Wow. This is quite the surprise. It’s rare to see active F1 drivers take part in other racing disciplines without wearing a gorilla suit.

    I think this is a good idea for everyone. It gives Hulkenberg a chance to show off his skills in a different series, and should benefit the WEC by hopefully attracting those curious to see a young F1 talent compete. Fair play to Force India for allowing it. After Kubica’s accident and in these modern times where F1 drivers appear to be treated by their team as if they’re made of porcelain, it’s refreshing to see a different approach. I hope to see more teams and drivers follow suit in the future.

    1. It’s certainly not surprising @colossal-squid since Radio Le Mans announced it during their coverage of the 6 Hours of Shanghai, but it certainly will be interesting to see how Nico copes with such a steep learning curve. With factory GT drivers Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy virtually certain to be his teammates, Le Mans could potentially be a humbling experience for the third Porsche crew, albeit we can still expect good things of a driver as versatile as the Hulk.

  6. Hulkenberg increasing his reputation of a boss!

    1. true that.. a real racer

  7. Looks like a typo up top. That should be 2015 LeMans. The 2014 race already happened. ;) Unless Force India have created time travel, then Force India for 2014 WCC! ;)

  8. If you consider how difficult is for an F1 driver to get a seat in competitive F1 team and win a race, then it’s not too hard to understand a driver wanting to win while driving anything not to mention winning a race in Porsche in Le Mans.

  9. Great news! Le Mans 2015 is looking more and more likely to be an epic race with so many factory LMP1 cars, and great drivers. Really happy that Force India are letting him do this.

  10. Wondering if Hulkenberg could one day take the whole Force India to the WEC if F1 becomes too unattractive for the small-but-effective team.

    1. @girts Actually I worry that there might be a similar problem in WEC – Next year you’re going to have three Audis, three Porsches, three Nissans, and potentially three Toyotas, all competing at the sharp end. Then you have very decent teams like Rebellion right behind. I think there’s actually a danger of there being so much interest in LMP1 that they have to start turning manufacturers away. That does leave LMP2 of course (presumably FI wouldn’t be interested in fielding a GTE) but the attraction of that class is going to be a bit limited I think when so much focus is placed on P1.

    2. i’m wondering the other way around: what if Porsche is aiming, in some time from now, F1?

  11. This is a great deal for both parts involved and I’m absolutely ecstatic about it! WEC gains more popularity by having an active (and bloody talented) F1 driver in their races and Nico will no doubt gain from this, if not in his tyre management or fuel saving skills then surely in overtaking and concentration.

  12. LAD

    That’s worth a lot of respect, especially as it’s a 20 GP F1 calendar next year.

  13. Hulkenberg could prove himself to be one of the most versatile active drivers around. I’m finding it tough to think of an active driver who clearly showed his skills in Formula One in a car as delivering in another category. The name that springs to mind in terms of being versatile is Juan Pablo Montoya…

    1. @craig-o there are plenty of ex F1 drivers, good ones, currently driving in WEC. Anthony Davidson and Sebastian Buemi (the guy people weirdly think was dumped on by Red Bull) just because WEC drivers’ champions. There’s also Mark Webber, Alex Wurz, Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, Bruno Senna, Kamui Kobayashi, all racing or having raced in various classes in Le Mans. And that’s not counting Alan McNish and Sebastian Bourdais, both of whom were in F1 but never really achieved any success. And that’s not even all of them.

      1. Also fair to say that a number of WEC drivers would likely have achieved success in F1 if they’d ever really been involved. Stephane Sarrazin has been competitive in just about everything he’s ever driven, and only a complete bonehead would question the abilities of Tom Kristensen.

        I’d say as a motorsport, WEC currently has the greatest depth of talent compared to any other.

  14. Glad to see an f1 driver trying another racing series while still driving in f1. I know it’s a bigger commitment now, but it was cool in the older days to see drivers hop in whatever pays and throw their skill at it. And it’s great for fans of both series if one is more relaxed and has better access to drivers. Case in point: I went to the Daytona 24 last year and got my picture with James Hinchcliffe from Indy Car because he was there driving the Mazda prototype. It was literally as simple as borrowing a friend’s pit pass, waltzing up to the pit tents, seeing him and asking for a photo.

  15. IF he can adopt to sharing a car with his co-drivers… it’s a team effort.
    Bring the car home.

    Like driving in various conditions pole laps for a long stint.

    Go ask Messr. Lotterer what he thinks of ‘fast’F1 drivers.

  16. Awesome ! Who was the last F1 driver to compete in such an important race in another category while still active in F1 ?!

    1. Reutemann did, he came 3rd in the Argentinian Rally in 1981, while still driving for Williams.

        1. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
          27th November 2014, 20:49

          Kimi was way better at rallying than Kubica. But I also think it was Reutemann. No one else springs to mind.

          1. Must be kidding. Kubica has won 5 stages this year with crappy Fiesta driving with one hand…

          2. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
            28th November 2014, 8:22

            I think you must be kidding. Kimi did better. Unless you think that Button did better than Hamilton this year?

    2. Brundle, Lehto, Wendlinger, Boutsen, Blundell, Warwick. All did Le Mans while racing in F1.

    3. Actually, it’s a lot more recent than that – Sebastian Bourdais competed in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans and 2009 12 Hours of Sebring for Peugeot whilst he was also competing for Toro Rosso in F1.

      1. Although racing at Le Mans didn’t do Bourdais’ F1 career any good. After the 2009 Le Mans race, he only had two more races with Toro Rosso (at both of which he retired) before he was replaced by Alguersuari.

    4. besides Reutemann, did anyone got a podium in any other series?

  17. This is really cool, I already love Le Mans, and with one of my favourite drivers now competing…I can’t wait! I hope Nico isn’t tempted to leave F1 for the attraction of a works team and indestructible tyres…

  18. If this isn’t enough of a reason to watch the World Endurance Championship, consider the fact that at least two of the manufacturers are looking to move up to the 8mj hybrid category. The Toyota TS040 is already hugely impressive wiht its 1000bhp peak power. This would give power levels in the 1200-1300bhp bracket. And unlike the ridiculous turbo rockets of yesteryear, this is controlled, usable power.

  19. I wouldn’t say Lotterer was the last active F1 driver to do Le Mans. When he did Le Mans, he hadn’t done an F1 race. We can barely call him an active F1 drier at Le Mans anyway, more like an active sports car racer in F1.

  20. V8 Supercars please note; even F1 let’s it’s drivers take part in other racing categories!!

    1. Van Gisbergen has been at the Daytona 24 recently, Lowndes and Whincup are interested in participating as well.

  21. Heiden Hinneberg
    27th November 2014, 18:28

    Pretty sure before Andre Lotterer was Kamui Kobayashi being one of the most recent F1 drivers to compete in Le Mans with AF Corse. And isn’t Sebastian Buemi with Toyota? Unless I didn’t understand the statement, pretty sure Sebastian Bourdais wasn’t the most recent before Andre Lotterer. Let me know if I’m wrong, or misunderstood..

    1. It depends what question your asking, Koboyashi and Webber and Buemi and Davidson etc. are recent F1 drivers to race at LeMans.

      If your looking for the last F1 driver who drove in both F1 and Le Mans simultaneously, then Sebastian Bourdais races for Toro Ross in F1 and Peugeot at Le Mans in 2009.

      1. Heiden Hinneberg
        28th November 2014, 7:25

        That would make way more sense if it were meant by “Simultaneously.”

  22. I don’t see the point of the WEC. Who sits hours on end to watch a motor race? Thats just boring…

    1. I see your point, 24 hrs. is a long time, but I don’t entirely agree with you, it’s great to watch a while, take a break and then check back in, 1st and last hours are essential viewing, maybe like me you would like to see a series of 300km sprint races for the top class (or classes) of WEC.

    2. You do realise the irony of what you’ve just said, considering your username?

      Le Mans for me is about more than just a motor race. It’s a huge event. Obviously, this is coming from the perspective of someone who often attends the race, so for me it’s a massive thing lasting more than a week. Going to all the various sessions, the scrutineering event in Le Mans centre under the shadow of the breathtaking gothic cathedral, and the car shows and spontaneous stuff that all goes on. But the race itself is magic. No other event has quite the same sense of tense anticipation as you build up to that incredible moment as the cars snake their way around the Ford chicanes and blast off for 24 hours of continuous, flat out abuse. There’s something that happens, you get a feel for the rhythm of the race, how the tide of performance ebbs and flows between the cars and the teams. The sheer monumental challenge of it, the breathtaking speed of the cars. The massive diversity between the cars and their different engine notes, from the ghostly, spaceship-swish of the Audis, through the high pitched wail of the P2 cars, to the stand-shaking rumble of the Aston Martin GT cars. And the racing, it’s the closest you’ll ever see. I’ve watched nailbiting wheel-to-wheel battles that go on for lap after lap. Witnessed the crushing devastation for a team when their car stops after hours and hours of running. I’ve watched Satoshi Motoyama desperately attempting to repair his smashed DeltaWing by the side of the track, before eventually breaking down in tears when he had to accept that their race was over. The race goes on and on, a constant backdrop of noise and drama. The sheer beauty of that magic twighlight hour as the sun dip towards the horizon, and suddenly the cars take on a whole new aspect when the lights and flames and glowing brakes highlight the fury and force of the monstrous racing machines. The bleary-eyed, drowsy sunrise, as the cars emerge from the darkness, marked with the scars of the overnight battles. And then finally, after 24 hours of continuous racing, the winners line up for a formation finish; once-gleaming bodywork riddled with smashed insects, tyre marks, and held together with yards of duct tape, all bearing witness to all the hours of abuse, and a sense of elation washes over the crowd and teams. Completing that distance, that duration, it’s such a monumental accomplishment. Each finish a moment of triumph, made all the more poignant by the carcasses of the cars and bits of detritus that litter the sides of the track, where those who weren’t so lucky came to an early end. It’s an overwhelming, powerful moment that always brings a lump to my throat as I cheer and clap, not just for those who made it to the finish, but for those who made the effort but fell in the trying.

      Le Mans is an incredible, magical, moving celebration of human endeavor. There is something there, something special and unique, which no single event on the F1 calendar can ever hope to deliver. It is many many things. Often cold, always unpleasantly loud, but it is never, ever boring.

      1. What a perfect picture of the feelings.
        Thank you for that

      2. Very well written.

    3. Heiden Hinneberg
      28th November 2014, 7:28

      My dad worked for Alex Job Racing for 6 years and I attended countless Endurance races. Even as a kid, I never got bored, and I think that may be the unique amazing experience WEC and Le Mans gives.

  23. When I think of WEC and F1 I think of Stefan Bellof. And although that ended badly, Bellof was one of the most promising drivers of his generation, just like I think Hulkenberg is, and it’s nice to see young drivers have a go at these top-class events, not only retired F1 drivers like Davidson and Wurz. I think it would be nice for the best drivers of today not to be locked in F1. In the (few) weekends that aren’t taken up driving at Le Mans and Spa in a Porsche is surely the best a racing driver could hope for, and I wish him the best of luck!

  24. Be cool if he shares the same car as Webber.

  25. Look who else appeared in the WEC paddock today…
    Dailysportscar FIA WEC, Interlagos, Friday Morning Paddock Notes
    Visiting the last two Williams drivers to go on a podium together!

Comments are closed.