Exclusive Nico Hulkenberg Q&A: Making the 2012 grid my goal 08 Feb 2011
Nico Hulkenberg was the hero of last years Brazilian Grand Prix. Upstaging the title contenders and startling the paddock, Hulkenberg stormed to pole position for Williams. But just a few weeks later he found himself cast adrift by the British team, desperately seeking a 2011 drive. An anxious wait followed over the winter before he eventually signed to Force India as third driver. It may not be a race seat, but the young German is hopeful that if he does enough to showcase his talents, he could be back on the grid soon
Q: Nico, how disappointing would it have been to leave Formula One racing after your positive debut season?
Nico Hulkenberg: It would have been mega frustrating and I probably would have understood the world no more. To be honest I still dont have a proper answer to this question. But thank God the worst didnt come. I am still in Formula One, even if it is hard to accept not being on the grid any more. I will have the chance to run on Fridays and will do everything possible to put in impressive performances to recommend myself for a permanent seat in 2012.
Q: There may well be some drivers on the grid without your talent. From your experience over the past couple of weeks what can be done to honour talent more?
NH: Well, its a tough situation to accept. But on the other hand it is not something that I can change, so it doesnt help to get furious about it. My aim for the future is to avoid such situations and find a way that can guarantee me a cockpit and look for a team that is banking on talent. There are obviously some teams on the grid that seem to need drivers that come with money and thats a bit sad, as the sport should be driven by talent. It is probably the current economic climate that has created such a situation because you also have to say that without funding there is no racing, so there is the necessity to dig for gold. Of course it would be preferable in Formula One for the best drivers to compete against each other with sheer talent alone and not with their wallets.
Q: You went well at last weeks Valencia test, outperforming the teams new permanent driver Paul di Resta on day one. Did that make your day?
NH: No, not at all, because it wasnt a fair comparison. Paul only got in the car for the last two hours of the day and the circumstances werent the same. I dont compare my times against Pauls, but I know that I have put in a good performance , that Ive done a good job and I was simply happy to be back in a Formula One car. I really enjoyed it and it makes me eager for more.
Q: You have come from a team whose car improved significantly during the second half of the 2010 season. How does the Force India compare to the Williams?
NH: There isnt really a big difference. Both cars feel relatively the same. But we are talking about the 2010 cars so I am waiting to lay my hands on the VJM04 to see how different it feels.
Q: You are the only driver at Force India who has experience of driving another Formula One car. Will you - and the team - use this to your advantage?
NH: I definitely hope that I can help my new team with my experience and with the things I learnt last year, from Rubens (Barrichello) too, although I have to say that it helps me too because it broadens my competence. I am keen to collect as much data as possible. I am absorbing the information as I learn, so last seasons experience is a very valuable commodity in Formula One.
Q: Williams and Force India are very different teams. What is the biggest distinction?
NH: Well, on the one hand you have Frank (Williams) and Patrick (Head) who are veterans of Formula One and on the other hand an Indian billionaire who has owned the team for four years. That is a quite diametric situation. But in the short time Vijay (Mallya) has had the team he has brought it forward with verve and I hope that I can add to the team to push it even further.
Q: How much of you behind the wheel of the VJM04 will we see this season?
NH: I will be at every race and will have the chance to run every Friday morning session and will be on hand whenever the team needs me.
Q: A career as a third driver can be satisfying temporarily, but in the long run you must be aiming for a permanent drive. What are you targeting for 2012?
NH: Hopefully a long and successful career in Formula One - for the next season with Force India, but then everything is open. My goal is definitely to fight for wins and the championship one day.
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