The German driver started in karting in 1997 when he was 10 years old. In 2002 he became a junior kart champion in Germany and the following year he won the German karting championship. In 2005 he premiered in Formula BMW winning nine of the twenty races and winning the world final of the category. The following year he competes in Formula 3, wins a race and finishes fifth in the general classification. Hulkenberg tested Formula 1 for the first time in 2007 during the Jerez Grand Prix during two days of practice, period in which he convinced the team of his qualities and became the third driver of the Williams F1 team in 2008.
In 2009 he won the GP2 championship. In 2012 he became official Force India driver, a brilliant season that placed him in the top positions of the best drivers on the grid.
In 2013 he moved to the Sauber team and finished the season in 8th place. During the seasons 2014 to 2016 he returns to Force India finishing in 9th and 10th positions respectively. In 2017 the driver joined the Renault team and managed to score in eight of the twenty races and finished 10th in the championship. In 2018 he continues in the Renault team with his new teammate Carlos Sainz.