Nico Hulkenberg has revealed he previously had conversations with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko regarding a potential drive with the Austrian outfit.

After Red Bull had exhausted its conveyor belt of young talent, the German was one of the options considered by Marko and team boss Christian Horner towards the end of 2020 along with Sergio Perez.

However, the seat next to Max Verstappen would eventually head to his former Force India team-mate, leaving Hulkenberg to remain on the sidelines.

He has since returned to the sport full-time this year with the Haas team, registering five Q3 appearances – including a front row in Canada – and scored nine points in 10 races.

Speaking to the Dutch newspaper AD recently, Hulkenberg has outlined he did indeed have contact with Marko but concludes it was never anything substantial.

“There have been some conversations with Helmut [in the past], but I never felt that it was really getting serious myself,” he disclosed.

If Hulkenberg would have landed the coveted seat at F1’s current top team, the veteran racer would have had the unenviable task of trying to maintain pace with Verstappen.

The Dutchman surpassed Ayrton Senna’s win total with his 43rd career victory at the recent British Grand Prix and is set to win his third consecutive championship this year.

Aside from admiring the abundance of talent he possesses behind the wheel, Hulkenberg has also paid respect to Verstappen’s demeanour outside of the car.

“How do I see Max? As an absolute killer,” he said. “He’s just so incredibly good.

“So much natural talent, but he is also a very nice and charming person. A no-nonsense guy. He just tells you how it is, [and] is honest with you. And I can appreciate that.”

Qualifying top three in parc ferme (L to R): Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas F1 Team, second; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, pole position; Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team, third. 17.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Qualifying Day.

Despite amassing an exceptional junior record and having persistent links to Ferrari earlier in his F1 venture, a top seat in the sport has never materialised for Hulkenberg.

Indeed, the 35-year-old still retains the unwanted record for the most starts in F1 history without achieving a podium finish.

Reflecting on his career to this point, the current Haas driver says it would have been nice to get the opportunity at Red Bull but appreciates how challenging it would have been with Verstappen in the sister car.

“That would have been nice, at such a top team,” he admitted.

“And not again, because being a teammate of Max, huh… That’s really the ultimate challenge for drivers. Probably the most difficult seat on the grid.”

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