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Nico Hulkenberg Q&A: Force India to throw everything at race

08 Nov 2014

It has now been seven races since Nico Hulkenberg started from inside the top 10, with 12th on the grid in Sao Paulo the 'absolute maximum' of what he and the car could achieve. But with Force India needing a big result if they are to catch McLaren in the constructors' championship, and the ever-present threat of rain promising potential surprises, Hulkenberg has vowed to be aggressive from the outset at Interlagos - a circuit where he has a history of upsetting the odds...

Q: You have had some fantastic moments on this track in the past, like securing pole in 2010, but unfortunately you were not anywhere near that today...

Nico Hulkenberg: Yes it is true: Brazil has been a good place for me as it was here that I claimed my only pole position so far - so let's hope that this time it will be a good place for me in the race.

Q: The track has been resurfaced - what do you make of it? Is it still a bumpy track?

NH: No, it is all even - almost slippery. It is so brand new that it is still leaking oil and that could really become an issue when it rains - and the forecast points in that direction, even if we've been spared it today. You never know here, so it will be a very interesting race.

Q: Some drivers spoke about the kerbs being a bit 'aggressive'. How do you see that?

NH: Yes, the kerbs are a bit severe here - among the most extreme of the whole season. The surface is new, but the kerbs are still the old ones. Some cars do not mind, but our car is not so good on kerbs like these so we have to be pretty careful not to damage the floor.

Q: How satisfied are you really with today's qualifying result - dropping out in Q2? Was that the maximum possible?

NH: It was the absolute maximum. I was four-tenths of a second off P11 - and that was not in the car this afternoon.

Q: Some of your colleagues might envy your P12 as you have the freedom of tyre choice. The soft tyre seems to be finished after three to four laps. Do you agree?

NH: Yes. The medium tyre is the one that takes you places (laughs) - something in the range of 20 laps and counting.

Q: Will that mean you will run a three-stop strategy?

NH: That will, of course, depend on the conditions. Should it be like it was this afternoon it will be a three-stop strategy. Should it be as warm as it was on Friday it will probably be one more - and if it is raining, whatever strategy you had goes out the window.

Q: Would you prefer a wet or dry race?

NH: I don't mind. You have to take it as it comes. But if you have done well in the wet in the past it is never a guarantee that the same will happen again. It's a different year, a different car and different tyres. You have to do your homework in the free practice sessions - let's hope that we did!

Q: Things haven't gone so well for Force India lately in their battle for P5 in the constructors' championship. McLaren have the upper hand right now...

NH: Yes, it hasn't gone our way so much. But take the last race in Austin: I was very unlucky in qualifying and in the race. In hindsight it is always easy to say that had we not had the issues we did, we could have finished sixth, but that's racing. For the last two races - here and in Abu Dhabi - we will throw everything we have at it - and with the double points in Abu Dhabi everything is still open. When you are chasing you have less to lose anyway - and believe me, we will chase McLaren. We will be aggressive and try to get it. And the race is our showcase this season - not qualifying!

Q: You've sorted your F1 future…

NH: …and that is very positive as I can now fully concentrate on racing - on optimising the performance. And it is an absolute first for me: spending a second year at the same team! (laughs) No changes over the winter - not getting to know a different team, factory and mentality - that is really luxurious. That should make for a smooth winter for me.

Q: And what will it mean for 2015?

NH: Well, we all know what to do - it's just not so easy to do it. Sometimes it's technically tricky, and sometimes you have budget restraints. You have to work with what you've got.

Q: From a team perspective it is the best year Force India have ever enjoyed. What about yourself? Would you say that 2014 has been your best year?

NH: It was a good year, yes. But I wouldn't automatically say it was the best. For this we had a few too many hiccups. Car-wise we were also stronger at the beginning of the year and, having said that, the second half was not as flawless as we would have wanted - and on quite a number of occasions we simply had bad luck.

Q: What has been your personal highlight so far?

NH: P5 in Monaco. And believe me, it's the best place to shine. (laughs)

Q: What do you think of Nico Rosberg's chances of turning the championship around again?

NH: Of course he still has chances. The double points in Abu Dhabi make it possible, so it really goes down to the wire. Of course right now everything points in Lewis's direction - he has had a fantastic run. But misfortune never sleeps and Nico really hasn't much to lose in these two last races so he will race on full attack - as he did this afternoon.