Nico Hülkenberg enjoyed his first FIA World Endurance Championship outing at Spa yesterday, despite having to face challenging conditions throughout practice.
The 27 year old Force India F1 driver set the fourth fastest time during Thursday’s two sessions, with the three Porsche 919 Hybrids taking three of the top four places.
“It’s all been good so far.” said Hülkenberg, who shares the #19 Porsche with Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy this weekend. “Obviously it was challenging with the weather today but I think tomorrow it will ramp up. It’s my first time out in this car in the wet, and also with other cars on the track, but I enjoyed myself in the car.”
While Hülkenberg is yet to get a true feel for the 919 Hybrid’s potential on the 4.35 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit, he is already noticing differences between LMP1 and F1 machinery.
“The handling was better than expected really; these four wheel drive cars are impressive in terms of traction out of low speed corners,” he said. “They’re great fun to drive. You have to push, lap after lap . That’s also something I’ve been quite impressed about. The whole technological side with the hybrid system is working also really well so these cars are great.”
Hülkenberg will participate in tomorrow’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. He was announced as one of Porsche’s ‘third car’ drivers in November, and has been looking forward to his foray into sportscar racing ever since.
“My interest in this was high and always there,” he commented. “The only thing I needed to get was the green light from Force India, which luckily I did. I’m very grateful for that. It was a very unique and special opportunity to come and do this so I grabbed it while it was there”
LMP1 qualifying for the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps begins today (May 1) at 17:35 GMT. The race, which forms the second round of the FIA WEC, will get underway tomorrow at 13:30 GMT.