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Nico Hulkenberg Q&A: Positive vibes at Force India

14 Mar 2014

In his first practice appearance back at Force India, Nico Hulkenberg ended the opening day in Melbourne a respectable tenth in the times. More importantly perhaps, the team were able to run their program without any major reliability issues and now Hulkenberg is hoping his Australia weekend will continue in the same vein…

Q: Nico, what do you make of today’s running?

Nico Hulkenberg: That it is fair to say - and which was visible during winter testing - that Mercedes is up front and after them it is Red Bull. And that we are around the top ten, some 1.4 seconds shy of Hamilton. But it’s the first day of running for a race, so there is room for improvement - though unfortunately for everyone. But that’s how it is and where we sit today. Let’s see how it works tomorrow.

Q: Some other teams are having quite serious reliability issues. It seems that Force India have been pretty much spared that. Is that giving you positive vibes?

NH: Yes, we are pretty much on top of it and there is nothing on the horizon that should destroy that good vibe. So yes, at the moment we are good.

Q: Can you read anything into the order that we’ve seen in Friday’s running?

NH: Yes, you can already - at least for this weekend.

Q: Are you surprised by Red Bull’s showing?

NH: They seem to be quick. Surprised about it? No, not really. Daniel Ricciardo already showed signs when he was running a fast lap in Bahrain that there is some speed in the car. They seem to have been able to fix some issues on the car - at least from what they have shown in their long run - so I expect them to be there too. But that is no surprise, with all the resources they have. It was very clear that they wouldn’t be stuck in the situation they’ve been in during testing.

Q: Your namesake Nico Rosberg said that fuel consumption will be one of the main issues - especially on a track like Melbourne. You race the same engine - how do you see that?

NH: Yes, you have to keep a good eye on it - manage your consumption more than in the past - to make it to the end of the race. Looking at the tyres everything was as witnessed over the test season, so at least for us no surprises there.

Q: Would you say that you are quite satisfied with your first day?

NH: Yes, because you couldn’t expect going into the first race weekend of the season without any issues. But touch wood, we made it pretty smooth here so far. We’ve been able to run our program for today almost like a normal Friday from last season. And that is almost a little sensation. But I also said before that there is room for improvement - and that room we will attend to tomorrow morning. Hopefully with the same smoothness as today!

Q: You went over the kerbs and on to the grass…

NH: Yes, I did. When the sun is sitting low it is tough to see. There are a few corners where it is hard to see the edge of the track, but it is all in my head now and hopefully it will not happen again. So let’s look forward to a very interesting race.