"Harder to walk through the airport": Nico Hulkenberg on the impact of Netflix Drive to Survive

F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands - Previews
Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas F1 talks to the media in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on August 24, 2023 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Nico Hulkenberg believes the growth of F1, especially after the release of hit Netflix show 'Drive to Survive' has made it difficult for him to walk around airports without being spotted.

The Haas driver believes that other than the media and fan attention, not much has changed for him as a driver since his last stint on the grid in 2019.

Asked by Sportskeeda how it felt to be a part to an evolved Formula 1 when compared to his last stint in the pre-'Drive to Survive; era, Nico Hulkenberg replied:

“I dont feel totally different. Back in 2019 there was a lot of focus on your performance and you were always judged by what you do on track and how you perform. I feel maybe on the global stage, F1 has grown and we have a bigger fan base. Almost every Grand Prix is sold out and every Grand Prix is packed, there are fans everywhere."

Hulkenberg added:

"It is harder to walk through the airport without taking selfies, which is ok. That’s the side effects that I feel. The rest hasn’t really changed for me.”

Prior to the release of 'Drive to Survive', the sport which was seeing a drastic loss of viewership and popularity by the end of the 2019.

The former Force India team driver felt however that, on a driver level, the scrutiny of a driver’s performance is more or less the same as before, given that F1 has always been a performance driven sport.

Nico Hulkenberg feels his time away from the sport gave him a break form the rigorous F1 routine

The time away from the sport witnessed Nico Hulkenberg become a ‘substitute’ for drivers affected with the COVID-19 virus as well as a part-time pundit for German media channels. The former Renault driver feels the hiatus gave him a break from the rigorous routine of F1 which was a part of his life since his karting years.

Fernando Alonso had recently done an interview where the Spaniard felt that a hiatus away from the sport made him enjoy and appreciate the sport more than he did before.

Asked if he shared Alonso’s opinion when it comes to enjoying the sport, Nico Hulkenberg said:

“I think yeah that’s the case. If you don’t live it you see it through TV, you see it through a different perspective, it does something to you, it changes your perspective, it brings back the appreciation more. When you start as a young kid go karting, you do formula cars and then formula 1, it’s always nonstop. You are always in that hamster wheel and you never have a chance to break away and see it from the other side."

He added:

"So and then when you get that chance and comeback, you do realise how cool, how privileged we are the responsibility we carry. I think there’s some truth in that, for sure.”

Along with Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo is the third driver to return after a short hiatus from the sport. While Hulkenberg and Alonso were away for two years, the Australian’s break was only six months, during which he was always around the paddock carrying out reserve driver duties for Red Bull Racing. Interestingly, all three drivers drove for Renault at some point in their career, with the Enstone team being the last team for the German before he returned with Haas.

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Edited by Siddharth Dhananjay
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