The Silverstone-based team finished the 2015 season strongly, scoring in each of the final nine races to secure fifth in the constructors’ standings. And now, with the number of days of pre-season track running slashed from 12 to eight ahead of the coming campaign, Hulkenberg thinks that Force India could be in the perfect position to take advantage, particularly if their rivals struggle to make strides.
“Less testing could mean better opportunities during the first couple of races if we’re better prepared than others - and have kept the momentum [of 2015],” he told Formula1.com. “At the end of the day [eight days] is all everybody has and we all have to work with this time.”
Force India’s 2015 machine, the VJM08, was one of the last cars to debut in pre-season testing last year, only making its track bow at the final test in Barcelona. But despite this, Vijay Mallya’s squad enjoyed a record-breaking year, and Hulkenberg sees no reason why they can’t improve still further this term.
“It's always difficult to judge what others will do and where you will pan out for the first race,” he said. “But from what I have seen of what the team is doing and developing, I think we can challenge for good results - probably even better than in 2015.”
Both of this year’s pre-season tests will be held at Barcelona, with the first running February 22-25 and the second March 1-4.
For more from Nico Hulkenberg - including his thoughts on reaching the podium, team mate Sergio Perez, and not being able to defend his Le Mans crown - look out for our full interview later this week.