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Nico Hulkenberg Q&A: We're still on a steep learning curve

20 Feb 2014

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg has been at the top of the timesheets all week in Bahrain, but the German is refusing to get carried away, insisting that there is still plenty of work to be done before the new season begins. On Thursday he spoke about the development of the VJM07 and his promising friendship with new team mate Sergio Perez…

Q: Nico, when looking at your excellent lap times, are you surprised about the pace of the Force India car?

Nico Hulkenberg: I don’t get fooled by lap times right now. I believe they don’t mean a lot. We are still in a system check and data-collecting phase and slowly but steadily trying to understand the car and the tyres. So being far up on the timesheet is not really what makes my day. What I am pleased about is that we’ve made very good progress over the last two days - and that we’ve learned a lot.

Q: So you are handing a good car over to your team mate Sergio Perez tomorrow?

NH: I think so, yes.

Q: What about Kevin Magnussen’s lap time in the McLaren? A stunner?

NH: He seemed to be pretty fast, yes. But lap times are not really on our radar right now. What we are looking at is to further develop the things that feel right - and eliminate those things that could spell troubles. It is literally trial and error, and that’s what we are here for.

Q: You did the best lap time yesterday and Magnussen bettered that be almost two seconds today. Do you think you are getting anywhere near to the potential of the new cars?

NH: We are getting closer. For sure we can say more now than back in Jerez. I think there will still be a steep learning curve in the next couple of days - and my guess is that the lap times will drop further. We definitely will be getting quicker.

Q: How about the tyres?

NH: It’s a bit tricky again, yes. You might easily run into rear degradation with the ‘torque-y’ engines. It is easy to spin-up the rears and degrade them. That will be one of the challenges this season.

Q: You briefly ran the super softs. How did it go?

NH: I only did two laps - and for that brief taste it seemed quite okay.

Q: What would you say is the biggest challenge that the drivers will face this season?

NH: To think economically. To use your fuel and tyres wisely - that is my impression right now. But I only can repeat myself over and over again: it is still early stages.

Q: How about the early stages of your relationship with your new team mate? There have been rumours that you spent time together in Mexico…

NH: Yes, I’ve been in Cancun with him - and it was very nice. Probably the beginning of a beautiful friendship! (laughs)