Nico Hulkenberg says he is glad he waited to make the move to Formula 1 with Williams next year – after revealing he turned down the chance to join Ferrari as Felipe Massa's replacement in the middle of last season.
Both Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella failed to score a point after taking over from the Brazilian, who suffered head injuries in a crash during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg, who has been promoted from a testing role to a race seat at Williams, said that his reputation could have taken a huge knock if he had been in the Ferrari rather than staying on to win the GP2 crown.
"Ferrari contacted my manager Willi Weber. They had a bit of interest and there was some contact," Hulkenberg told AUTOSPORT. "It didn't come out that way, as we know, and I think it worked out for the best because I was able to finish GP2, win it and start F1 clean with Williams, which is a great team.
"It would have been bad for me not only to leave GP2 when I was in a position to win the title, but also for my reputation to be affected by bad results in F1. Look what happened to [Romain] Grosjean. A couple of tough races and then someone like [Kamui] Kobayashi turns up for two races and looks really good. It must have been very tough for him."
The 22-year-old German was delighted to break an eight-month layoff from F1 action by setting the second quickest time during Jerez testing on Wednesday.
"To be honest, I got the feeling back pretty quickly, which surprised me," he admitted. "We had some very consistent running all day and the track conditions were pretty consistent, too, so it was all very good.
"It was a lot of prepping for next year, driving with a heavy car and seeing what it's like with the balance and how the tires behave. These are not next year's tires, but still we can gather some information. For Thursday, the plan is pretty similar."