Nico Hulkenberg feels he and the Sauber team are well prepared for their first race together at Albert Park this weekend. The German has switched from Force India but has endured a tricky winter with his new squad, suffering reliability problems in testing, but despite that Hulkenberg has high hopes for the season opener.
“Finally the start of the season is coming closer. I’m really looking forward to this race, as Australia is always one of my favorite Grands Prix, and Melbourne has a very special atmosphere, so I’m keen to be there. I also like the track which is not a permanent circuit. We are driving around a lake in a park and, especially during the drivers’ parade, you feel very close to the fans.”
“The track itself is very challenging for the drivers. It has got a lot of bumps and you have to know how best to deal with them. In terms of competitiveness, the final Barcelona test showed we are quite well prepared but still have some homework to do, and that we still have room for improvement in certain areas. But I’m confident the baseline is good. I’m really looking forward to racing against the usual grid and finally get a clear picture of where everybody stands with regard to performance.”
Teammate Esteban Gutierrez is gearing up for his Formula One debut and the GP2 graduate is looking to get up to speed straight away despite never having driven around Albert Par before.
“Now we have finalised the pre-season testing, I feel very grateful for the work of every team member and the opportunity to get up to speed with the basics of F1. Melbourne will be my first race in F1 and I’m sure it will be very special. It’s a track that I don’t know, but I’m confident I will be able to learn it quickly in the free practice sessions.”
“Competing in a Formula One race is the next step in my career, and that’s what I need to focus on. One of the things that I need to do is feel natural and relaxed in my surroundings so I can focus on the most important elements during the weekend. I feel I have a good base for the start of the season, but, of course, I will keep on working as I have areas where I can improve. My goal is to exploit the car’s potential and finish consistently within the points.”