Nico Hulkenberg: “There’s a lot that’s new, but the game is still the same”


World © Octane Photographic Ltd. Formula 1 - Winter Test 2. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault Sport F1 Team R.S.17. Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Tuesday 7th March 2017. Digital Ref: 1784CB1D1293

Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg has settled into life with his new team as if he has always driven for the Enstone based squad, and is now ready to get the new F1 season underway.

“I feel happy in my new home and there was a lot to learn over testing, whether it be new names and faces or a new steering wheel, but everything has been positive.

“Importantly, the new cars are bloody fast and a lot of fun!”

The German is a fan of the new regulations introduced for 2017, which he feels have made this year’s machines, much more thrilling to drive.

“The first race of the season is going to be very exciting. The cars are like driving a very fast and spectacular rollercoaster and it’s a lot more demanding than before, now you have to wrestle these cars!

The 29-year-old says that the new wider tyre compounds appear to last longer, which should allow drivers to push much harder, and that is definitely a positive for Hulkenberg.

“The tyres allow you to push harder every lap, so you can exploit and be on the limit, it’s a lot more work and a lot more demanding.”

Having had a relatively productive winter test, despite technical problems with the all-new concept Renault engine on occasion, Hulkenberg feels the Enstone based team will be battling amongst the middle order at the start of the season.

With development continuing throughout the season at a rapid rate however, the German is confident the team will progress up the field without problem, and will enjoy a strong campaign this year.

“In terms of performance, I see us in the midfield at the moment, but the pace is good and from here we can improve step by step and work our way up.

“It’s going to be a tough fight as there are some very fast and well established teams currently ahead of us, but we have everything we need to fight for points. It should be a good season.

In terms of the Albert Park circuit itself, Hulkenberg favours the middle section of the track, which he feels is an exciting part to drive as well as being challenging.

“Sector two is probably my favourite part of the track after turns 3-4 there’s the very quick right-hander where it is very narrow on the exit and there’s no run-off area.

“Then the following right-hander also is bumpy on entry, underneath trees, with some nice kerbs, and then into sector three is a very quick left-hander, which is pretty exciting too.”

The German is chomping at the bit to take on the rest of the field with his new team, but says he will not be approaching the race any differently this weekend.

“Once you’re sat in the car, on the grid and watching the lights, it’s business as usual. Bring it on!”