Nico Hulkenberg Q&A - Sauber move was the right decision 22 Feb 2013
The main headlines surrounding Nico Hulkenbergs early running in Saubers C32 focussed on his feet apparently being too big for the cockpit. Some new shoes have solved that problem and, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com after his Barcelona outing this week, Hulkenberg is already feeling very much at home in his new car and his new team
Q: Nico, a career move is always triggered by the hope of a better deal. Have your hopes been met so far?
Nico Hulkenberg: Well, yes, I am happy with where I am - bearing in mind of course that Ive only done two tests so far and the season hasnt begun yet. Ask me after a few races - then it is much easier to answer that question. What I can speak about right here, right now is my own personal feeling: I am confident that Ive made the right decision. That is good enough for me.
Q: Sauber are proud of the fact that drivers always come to them, rather than vice versa. So obviously the initiative came from your side. What are you hoping to find?
NH: Ha, maybe that is only half of the truth (laughs) Of course as a driver you always look for options to progress - to move up the ladder - so every option that arises is of interest. So you have to make - and look for - decisions for your life and for your sporting life, in order to get inch by inch closer to your goal of being successful - and to get better. That is the core of success: to get better and to look for options that give you the chance to get better.
Q: You have driven the C32 for a total of four days - is it the car that will bring you closer to fulfilling your ambitions?
NH: Ha, at this time of the year it is the only time that drivers really tell the truth: honestly, I dont know. I am happy with what I feel so far and how the car handles, bearing in mind that there is always room for improvement. Having said that, I have no idea where this will place us in the current pecking order and I doubt if any of my driver colleagues has a clearer picture. Winter testing is simply something completely different from a race weekend: now everybody is running his own program trying to figure out how the car works and how the car works together with different tyre compounds and different fuel loads. What lap times these programs produce is mainly of negligible importance - the importance is to eliminate errors. On a race weekend it is completely the opposite: everything you do - all Friday and Saturday morning - is meant to produce the fastest time possible in one lap.
Q: There seems to have been an issue with your feet being too big for the C32s cockpit. What was the exact problem and has it been solved?
NH: Ha, the media has blown up all these stories. The real issue was that in Jerez we didnt have the right shoe size for me - that was it. Now with the right shoe size everything is perfect. Does that make me the F1 Cinderella? That only the one with the right shoe size will see a happy ending? Who knows? I do love fairy tales - I just wonder who is playing the wicked stepmother (laughs)
Q: Where do you see room for improvement with the car? Does it have the potential to repeat Saubers podium finishes of 2012?
NH: I definitely feel potential. But where we will end up with this potential on the grid, I dont know. Melbourne will tell us that.
Q: What do you make of the test days so far? For you it is a new team, a new team mentality, a new car
NH: The four days so far went really well. It is not a British team, that is for sure. It is a multicultural team - and thats interesting. But on the professional side things are executed pretty much the same everywhere, so the language might be different but the going about things is pretty much the same, whether you sit in Hinwil, Switzerland or in Silverstone in the UK. That is comforting indeed. (laughs)
Q: Of the other teams, have you spotted any particular car that looks better than the rest? And where does the C32 fit in?
NH: Ill tell you a secret. In my whole four days of running I saw very little of the other cars on the track. From the bit that I saw in Jerez - and from what I have picked up in conversation - the Red Bull looks pretty competitive again. Where we are in that context? No idea.
Q: The predictions are that the field will even be tighter this season than it was in 2012, due to the relatively stable rules. That would suggest that the drivers skill will play an even bigger role. Would you see this as an advantage for you?
NH: I have no idea right now. Lets look back to 2012: it was already super tight - at times one-tenth could mean five places - so I can hardly imagine that it is going to be much worse than that. (laughs) Of course a driver can always make that little difference that makes you win or lose - but in both directions. I hope, of course, that in my case its in the right direction!
Q: How is life with your new team? Have you already moved to Switzerland?
NH: I have moved to Switzerland already. The good thing is there are a lot of driver colleagues living around Zurich, so you already know people. That gives a homely feeling.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your Thursday running? It was your fourth day in the car, meaning you have just another two left next week before Melbourne
NH: In the morning we did aero parts and data measuring - no eyes on lap times. Before lunch we tried the soft-compound tyre and set-up work and in the afternoon some long runs.
Q: You may not be with one of the big teams yet, but clever career moves have seen your reputation as a driver continue to grow. When will the big breakthrough come?
NH: You never know, the big breakthrough might be here at Sauber. The team had four podiums last year, so who knows? I want to be in Formula One and be successful in the long term, but I dont have a schedule telling me that in two years time I have to have done that or achieved this. Life is very individual and sometimes things go your way and sometimes they dont, so you always have to be ready to redirect your life and ambitions.
Q: What would be a good year for you?
NH: To point to a certain position is impossible before the season has started. What I missed out on last year - by not much - was to be among the top ten in the driver standings. I thought that would have been nice, even though it is nothing really earth shattering. (laughs) I want to be satisfied with myself - to know that I have made the most of my chances, my car and my package.
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