Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Nico Hulkenberg Q&A: It was one of my best races ever 06 Oct 2013

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 6 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32 leads Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 6 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32 leads Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138 amd Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 6 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 5 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 5 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 5 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013

It’s not easy to withstand the pressure brought about by having two world champions behind you, but that’s precisely what Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg did in Korea on Sunday, as lap after lap he calmly held off the challenge of both Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. After equalling his best ever race result of fourth, Hulkenberg spoke to reporters about his fine drive and what it means for his future…

Q: Nico, was this the race that will catapult you to new heights?
Nico Hulkenberg:
I don’t know anything about catapulting me anywhere - I just know that this was one of my best races ever. And yes, it probably was some sort of masterpiece. I’ve had many cars in my rear view mirrors in my career so far, but today was really special with two world champions! Lewis (Hamilton) and Fernando (Alonso) were pushing very hard the whole race, especially later in the race with Lewis in the last sector. But my trick was to see that I exited corner one with enough speed - and it worked. The car had fantastic traction today and that kept us alive - and it was fast on the straights as well. I think that is what the guys behind me had to swallow whether they liked it or not.

Q: How much of an ego trip is it to keep two world champions behind you, knowing that both have - theoretically - the better car?
NH:
The fun starts now - out of the car. The race was heavily demanding, as it required full concentration on every inch of the track. It was a tough fight, but if you come out of it on top there are 12 points waiting for you and that is a fantastic result given the season that we’ve had. It seems that since Monza we’ve been on a steep upward curve.

Q: You sounded pretty relaxed in your conversations with the pit wall and your pit crew - and yet you say that you felt under enormous pressure. How did you manage to sound so relaxed?
NH:
It was not the first time in my racing career that I’ve driven under pressure. This is something that you learn to cope with when moving from a go-kart to a Formula One car. These are the basic ins and outs of racing. It basically means that you focus on yourself, don’t look too much in your mirrors and do your thing. Isn’t that what Kimi (Raikkonen) always says? He does his thing? But it doesn’t only work for him! (laughs)

Q: What would you say was crucial for this result?
NH:
Of course, the car - that worked fantastically. As I just said, that traction out of the slow corners was incredible. But it was also about ‘keeping cool’, not forcing too much, not over pacing it. I think we’ve found a perfect answer for this race today.

Q: When did you really understand that you could control all the cars behind you?
NH:
Well, right after the start Fernando was glued to me, and it was then that I understood that I could probably not control him, but keep up his speed, and as I was in front of him it meant that with the same speed he would have to pass - and that I didn’t allow. I really started to believe that I could bring P4 home ten laps before the chequered flag. The safety car definitely helped us today, as I don’t know if my tyres would have lasted. So finally, for once all the pieces fell into the right place for us.

Q: How much will this demonstration of your skills help you in finding a 2014 race seat?
NH:
This is something that I am not thinking about here and now. I am happy about how it went for me and the team today - I am simply enjoying the moment. I also don’t think that a single race will change the staffing policy of any team.

Q: There is a very obvious upward trend at Sauber. Could it be that it is the wrong moment to leave the team?
NH:
I would say that after such a race it is the wrong moment to think about that and to start to speculate. Yes, we definitely made a huge step forward, but - like in Singapore - we also profited from retirements, otherwise we would not have bagged so many points there. This weekend our concept simply worked out: having good speed with good traction. It sounds simple, but believe me, it isn’t! I want to give my compliments to the team for their effort this weekend.

Q: As it worked so well for you here, what’s your guess about next weekend in Suzuka?
NH:
Not sure. Suzuka is a high-speed track and from what we’ve seen this weekend the high-speed corners were not really our thing, so it will depend a lot on if we get the set-up right there. Of course the hope is that from now until Brazil it will carry on in this mode.

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 merchandise, click here.