Hulkenberg's “heart was bleeding” watching 2012 Brazil GP

Ahead of what could be the German’s final Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi, Hulkenberg was clear that the biggest moment that got away from him was at Interlagos seven years ago.

In that race, Force India driver Hulkenberg was leading early on from Jenson Button, with the pair 50 seconds clear of the rest of the field, before a safety car period bunched everything up.

Moments later, he lost the lead to Lewis Hamilton and then, as he tried to retake the then-McLaren driver, they crashed at the first corner – which effectively ended the German’s hopes of a good result.

Reflecting on his career at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hulkenberg confessed that the 2012 Brazilian was perhaps the one day that he would have liked to have turned out differently.

“Ironically, last week, I was in bed watching Sky classic races, and I just tuned in and it’s that race,” said Hulkenberg. “I’m leading and I watched it all over again and my heart was bleeding.

“Yeah, that was the day. I mean, before the safety car I was leading by 50 seconds. So that was a special race, a special day, a very young Hulk. That was one of the special drives from the history books.”

Asked if he felt that victory that day could have changed his career, Hulkenberg said: “Maybe possibly. But it’s always difficult to tell what would have happened in that situation. I don’t know.”

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Hulkenberg has found himself without a drive in F1 next year after his Renault team elected to replace him with Esteban Ocon.

With no other options having opened up on the grid, it means the German will be without a drive for the first time since 2012.

Asked how he felt with his F1 career potentially coming to an end, Hulkenberg said: “I’m fine with it, to be honest.

“It is not new. I’ve known for a while that it is what is coming, but I am fine about it.

“But part of me is also excited about the time ahead, you know: close this chapter, and open a new one. And what might happen or might not happen in the future. I don’t know, nobody knows right now.

“But for me personally, you know, it’s just to get away for a while. Then I want to disconnect a bit from racing for a few months and then see what I’m up to with my head and my heart, and then reassess.”