German Formula 1 driver Nico Hülkenberg became the first active Formula 1 driver to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in almost a quarter of a century.

The Force India driver, along with co-drivers Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, claimed a one-lap victory in a third works Porsche 919 Hybrid entered specially for the blue-riband race. In a flawless drive, the trio finished ahead of the #17 Porsche, which was driven by former F1 driver Mark Webber.

Hülkenberg’s achievement was all the more remarkable given it was hit debut Le Mans race, coming nearly 25 years on from the 1991 victory of Bertrand Gachot, Johnny Herbert and Volker Weidler in the rotary-engined Mazda 787B. Gachot had been loaned to Mazda by the Jordan team, the forebear of Force India.

In an era where today’s F1 drivers are rarely allowed to race in anything else, credit must go to Hülkenberg’s team boss, Vijay Mallya, for allowing his lead driver the chance to compete in this event. The Indian was trackside at La Sarthe and tweeted his excitement for his young driver.

Following the race, Mallya added: “All of us at Force India are proud of you.”

There is no doubt that It is no doubt that Hülkenberg is an extraordinarily talented driver with titles in Formula BMW, Formula 3, A1 Grand Prix, GP2 Series and now the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Right now, his current F1 team Sahara Force India are not where they would want to be and have always been in the midfield. Surely it is a question of when – not if – Hülkenberg will get a top drive for a Formula 1 team.

No doubt this will be a talking point in the paddock as we prepare for the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

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Chandni Patel

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