Nico Hulkenberg Q&A: I want to stay at Williams in 2011 07 Oct 2010
Before his penalty-stricken race in Singapore, Williams Nico Hulkenberg had been enjoying a very good run, scoring 14 points over the preceding three races. Hulkenberg himself is pleased with his first season in Formula One racing, even though his contract to stay with the British team in 2011 has not yet been inked. Rather than worry about where hell find himself next season, the young German is focused on putting in some strong performances at the last four rounds to prove his worth
Q: It is the first time for you at Suzuka, how much time did you spend in the simulator to get used to the track layout?
Nico Hulkenberg: I probably only did about 30 to 40 laps, as I am not the biggest fan of it (the simulator). I know that (Kazuki) Nakajima was forced to sit in the simulator for many days, but after a certain time you reach a point where you're not getting any more value out of it, as it is not the reality. You have to come here and start driving to learn a track properly.
Q: Do you have the same car here, with the brake ducts and floor, as your team mate Rubens Barrichello?
NH: Yes, the very same. The package looks very good, and I really hope that the theory will become reality, like it was during the past few races.
Q: Were you upset with the penalty that you received in Singapore?
NH: Actually yes, as after Adrian Sutil's penalty, I was in P8 with four points. I ended up with only one, which was quite frustrating. The stewards decided this, and there is nothing more to say. We have to accept it and continue racing. The stewards do have many different camera perspectives, whether it is onboard or track side. From a drivers point of view I would say that it was a racing incident. Of course it was tight; all three of us, Tonio (Liuzzi), Adrian and myself were next to each other in a line. But again, the stewards decided that I gained an advantage through this action and penalised me. In the beginning the stewards did not see it like it turned out to be, it was only after Force India protested that I received this penalty. Of course I have to understand that the battle is not only what has been fought on the track, but also off-track.
Q: At the start of the season you said youd be fighting the Force Indias and it has come to pass
NH: Thats right. Regarding performance and speed I would say that we are in a very good position. Also in Monza, where everyone said that Force India would have good speed, we were faster.
Q: Who do you think will be this years world champion?
NH: Fernando (Alonso). I think he is the most experienced driver amongst the realistic championship contenders. He has mastered this task twice already, and during the last few races when the pressure is getting stronger he stays calm and shows his killer instinct. If you look at the qualifying lap (in Singapore) he displayed what he is capable of, even if the Red Bull should have been half a second quicker. Also if you look at Red Bull, they had an amazing top speed, but in the end Fernando won.
Q: McLarens Lewis Hamilton has been criticised a lot recently for his mistakes. If you take a look at the incidents he was embroiled in at Monza and Singapore, how do you see it?
NH: I would say that he risked a little too much there. The chance to pass Felipe (Massa) may not have been good at that point. So there I would say that it was his mistake. In Singapore I would say that this was an accident, as I think that he gave Mark Webber enough space. He had to take the chance to be in a good position, so it was not a mistake but rather bad luck. These things happen in racing. If two drivers are heading for the same turn and both want to have the best line, then contact might happen. Webber came into the whole situation as he had to pass one of the Virgins, which caused Lewis to be in a good position. He was ahead for a couple of metres, then Mark braked very late so as not to lose his position. Lewis gave him some space, but then they touched. This is what makes racing exciting. For me this was a pure racing accident.
Q: Suzuka is quite a difficult track. Do you think your more experienced team mate Rubens Barrichello will have the advantage?
NH: Of course this is an advantage, but what can I do? I have to try and perform well on Friday, do as many laps as possible and then I do not see a big problem.
Q: From the Budapest race onwards, you have had quite a good run and Barrichello has had to fight a bit. How did it feel in Singapore when you were not able to get closer to your team mate?
NH: Of course you want to catch up, and it is frustrating if it is not working. Singapore especially was a missed opportunity, not just because of the five-spot grid penalty after qualifying and the post-race penalty. But what can you do? This is a new race and we have to try again.
Q: Is there any news regarding next years situation with you and Williams?
NH: At the moment there is no news, and I am not concerned. There is nothing more that I can do at the moment, except show my performance and recommend myself through doing this. The feedback is positive, and even after Singapore the team was very happy. I am doing my job, having fun and enjoying racing. The car suits me well, I am very happy in the team. Everything else will come, and it is not really in my hands. I want to stay in this team, and generally things do look well in that respect.