Nico Hulkenberg heads to this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix hoping to upset the applecart on a circuit where natural talent can help to mask a car's deficiencies.
The German opted to leave Force India for Sauber at the end of the 2012 F1 season, but has had to watch as his former employer seized the early upper hand in their midfield battle – and even performed well enough to put McLaren between them in the standings.
Indeed, such has been Sauber's poor start to the 2013 campaign, Toro Rosso also sits above it heading into the sixth round this weekend, prompting Hulkenberg to again remark that things have not been as he had expected ahead of his move to Hinwil.
"We are behind where we expected, and not producing the results we wanted when we started the season,” the 25-year old told Spain's El Confidencial
, before reflecting on a turbulent stint in the top flight that has seen him drive for three teams in four years, and spend one of those on the sidelines as a reserve, rather than race, driver.
“Everyone's career is different, and mine has had many changes,” he acknowledged, “But there are many things that make this sport so pretty. F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing. You work with the best professionals in each area, and run against the best drivers and engineers in the world.”
Despite his struggles so far this year, Hulkenberg has received fulsome praise from Sauber, but he knows that pounding round with no guarantee of points is not the best way to sell himself to bigger teams. Sauber, of course, has strong ties to Ferrari, and there are sections of the F1 paddock that believe Hulkenberg headed to Switzerland on the basis that he was putting himself ahead of the queue to replace Felipe Massa.
"I don't know [what the situation is] - you'll have to ask them,” he insisted, "These are the early days of the season, but all I know is that I want to get back to winning races and challenging, and to be champion one day. To do that, you have to be in a big team. The future is open and you have to do the best you can with the car you have every weekend."