Nico Hülkenberg has expressed his surprise at the news that Fernando Alonso will be absent from the Monaco Grand Prix to instead compete in the Indy 500.
News of the switch broke yesterday, with Jenson Button tipped to be his replacement at the street race next month, although no confirmation has been made at the time of writing.
Hülkenberg himself has shared the F1 season with other commitments; he jointly competed in WEC during 2015 including a seat at the Le Mans 24. But the German, who races for Renault Sport F1 Team, has said he wouldn’t have accepted a race in the WEC if it meant forfeiting a race in Formula One.
“My case was completely different, I didn’t go away from F1 in the way he is,” he said. “I would have never done it if I had to miss a race for it, especially Monaco.
“A big decision and big news obviously and he can do what he wants. I am a bit surprised like everybody about this situation.”
Hülkenberg also believes the switch will prove harder than Alonso probably thinks, owing to the different cars, tyres and its oval track; Alonso has no previous experience in the series. He also discarded comparisons with his own stint at Porsche, stating that he had undergone extensive testing with the outfit to ensure his readiness.
“I think it is quite tough,” he said. “I don’t know much about Indy but he has never driven these cars or an oval, so do you think you can come in and win that easily? I at least had half a year practice [for Le Mans].
“It sounds like a challenge but obviously Fernando likes challenges.”