Nico Hulkenberg has spoken of the fire lit inside of him by fellow German Michael Schumacher as the seven-time F1 world champion remains in a medically-induced coma following a skiing accident.
While tributes have poured in following the news that Schumacher had received serious head injuries in a fall on the slopes last Sunday [29 December], Hulkenberg and his fellow countrymen have been particularly vocal in their support for the man who transformed national interest in the top flight single-seater series. Schumacher showed brief signs of improvement following a second operation to relieve pressure inside his skull on New Year's Eve, but remains in a 'stable but critical' condition in hospital in Grenoble.
"I'm not sure Michael was the reason I started karting but, once I was into racing, he obviously inspired me and he was somebody I looked up to,” Hulkenberg was quoted by Times of India
, "[He] was so successful and made a lot of headlines all the time, so that's probably the main reason why F1 became so popular in Germany. The interest levels and knowledge of the sport among the fans increased and there was much more television coverage, which inspired more youngsters to follow the sport.
“He was so dominant and determined and, as a young German driver, my goal was always to follow in his footsteps. For as long as I can remember, my aim was to reach F1 and become a champion, just like Michael.”
Despite another season peppered with stand-out performances in the less-than-competitive Sauber, Hulkenberg remained overlooked by the leading F1 teams and instead returns to Force India
for the 2014 campaign.