Nico Hulkenberg took to the track for the first time in a Porsche 919 Hybrid at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain as part of a three-day test that saw six drivers get some valuable track time. The German will be competing for Porsche in a third 919 Hybrid during the 2015 24 hours of Le Mans as well as racing in Formula 1.
Sahara Force India driver Hulkenberg was joined in the test by regular LMP1 drivers Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, as well as three of the Porsche works GT drivers Michael Christensen, Frédéric Makowiecki and Nick Tandy. Between the six drivers, they covered 2,731 kilometres around the 5.345 kilometre Spanish circuit over three days, including some night running.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl knew the importance to give Hulkenberg the opportunity for an early test in the 919 Hybrid, and was delighted that he adapted to the LMP1 car early.
“Except for some strong winds at times, the conditions in Aragon were fine,” said Seidl. “It was important to give Nico the chance to drive the 919 this early on. He familiarised himself very quickly and delivered what we had expected from him, being a world-class driver. Also his personality fits very well into our team and with Porsche.
“For each of the GT drivers it was their second time testing the LMP1 car. No question: All three have done a very good job. Brendon and Timo have been giving the other drivers great support with their know-how and knowledge of the routines. These were very positive days for all of us and a nice last outing for our initial prototype after a great debut season. Now we will focus fully on the 2015 car.”
Hulkenberg, who ran 155 laps over two days in Aragon, drove in the dark for the first time on both days, and felt at ease with the 919 Hybrid. He is already looking ahead to his next test in the car, and is eager to become the first active Formula 1 driver to compete at Le Mans next year since Sebastien Bourdais in 2009.
“There were many new experiences in a very short space of time for me and I feel a hundred per cent positive,” said Hulkenberg. “The 919 is great to drive. It has a lot of downforce in fast corners and the hybrid power to accelerate out of slow corners is impressive.
“The preparation from the simulator was very realistic and I found the night driving especially cool. I’m looking forward to further testing and of course, to Le Mans.”