Lost & Found #40: Nico Hulkenberg at the A1 Grand Prix, Taupo 2007
This week's Lost & Found is jumping back to a weekend in Taupo in 2007 - I was there to cover the launch of a (yet-to-be-completed) film about the life of Bruce McLaren, the great Kiwi grand prix driver, and founder of the McLaren Formula One team.
But, it turned out that my accreditation was for the whole weekend of A1 Grand Prix action, so I stayed - and this weekend Nico Hülkenberg won the 24h of Le Mans, along with Kiwi driver Earl Bamber (and another Kiwi, Brendon Hartley, came second), so I thought it was worth taking a look at those images again to see what I found. The young German - he was only 20 at the time- was a relative newcomer then, like a number of the A1 drivers; but his career has been growing steadily since that season.
The launch event featured an astonishing range of Bruce McLaren's family, contemporaries, crew, and drivers for his team - Sir Jack Brabham, Chris Amon, Emerson Fittipaldi, John Watson, Eoin Young, Walter Wilmott, Phil Kerr, and many more. We were even treated to both Fittipaldi and Brabham driving around the circuit in vintage F1 cars - at what seemed like a great rate of knots, to me - Brabham going out without even a helmet, nothing but sunglasses between him and the track ahead.
In the A1 Grand Prix event, Hülkenberg seemed in control all weekend, winning both the sprint race and the feature on Sunday - so it didn't surprise me that much when he was picked up by the Williams Grand Prix team in 2010, and is still racing in F1 today - which makes his Le Mans win all the more surprising! (He's the first active F1 driver to win since Johnny Herbert in 1991, I'm told.)
It was an amazing weekend, all up; and if I learned anything, it's to keep an eye out in every direction in the pits. Some drivers - even the greatest - expect you to get out of the way if you hear an F1 car heading in your direction...!