Nico Hulkenberg claims holding the record for the most grand prix starts by a driver in Formula 1 history without scoring a podium finish is a testament to his longevity.
The highest the German has finished across his 193 F1 race starts is fourth on three occasions – but he has squandered previous chances to end his protracted drought.
Most notably in the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix when he tangled with Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren whilst contesting the lead of the race on a greasy track surface.
However, Hulkenberg, who returned to F1 with Haas this year, reckons being in a position to achieve that leading number actually reflects positively on his career.
When questioned on his failure to record a top-three finish due to not driving for a renowned front-running team, Hulkenberg addressed: “That’s stating a fact there.
“Obviously, when you start thinking about it that’s a little bit frustrating. Because every racing driver back then and even now wants to win, ideally. But at the same time, I’ve never had the car.
“I’ve had good cars and also had opportunities to deliver the podium, but then for various reasons it never really happened. Never clicked and happened.
“But, to be honest, I’m still in a good, happy place – enjoying myself. And if I reflect back, of course there were things I could’ve done better.
“But I’m not bitter or frustrated about it. I’m in a good place and going to hit I think 200 grands prix later in the season – somewhere around Mexico [in October].
“And whilst not having the podium, I think if I would be so bad I would’ve not managed to stick around [for] 200 grands prix – so, there must be some good in there too somewhere.”
Despite accepting he missed out on opportunities in the past, Hulkenberg asserts that his chances have only boiled down to “less than a handful” of occasions.
“I’m here in the current Formula 1 season, working day-in, day-out and trying to maximise the season,” he said regarding his career in the sport.
“I have to maximise what I have. And the opportunities in the past, unfortunately they didn’t work. Of course, that was very frustrating at the time, but that is what it is.
“There is that and someone told me the other day there is this statistic ‘most races without a podium’.
“But there is another statistic like ‘most points without a victory or without a podium in F1’. My point is that statistic speaks for me, actually.”
The ex-Renault racer believes his 6ft frame “definitely hasn’t helped” in the past when it has come to missing out on positions with teams at the sharp end.
Having amassed an exemplary junior record and scored a maiden pole in changing conditions for Williams in his rookie season in 2010, Hulkenberg was touted as an F1 World Champion in waiting.
However, a seat with one of the elite sides never arrived, despite reported long-standing interest in his services from Ferrari.
“I’ve never had an answer where [teams] said, ‘Sorry, no – we turned you down because you’re too tall’,” he explained. “Probably they wouldn’t tell me straight to my face.
“But I’m pretty sure that it has, yeah, hindered the odd opportunity and occasion to jump to a top car.
“Packaging issues, less space, more weight, which is not the right way around in this business.”