Nico Hulkenberg had his first taste of an IndyCar at the Barber on Monday, conceding he needs to “hit the gym” as the cars are “steering monsters”.
Hulkenberg tested an Arrow McLaren SP around Barber Motorsports Park, putting in over 100 laps with a best time of 77.454s. That put him just over a second down on pace-setter David Malukas.
It was the former F1 driver’s maiden outing in an IndyCar, with the test said to be more for Hulkenberg to see if he enjoys driving the cars than if McLaren want to sign him for the future.
The German, who has not raced a single-seater since his three substitute appearances for Racing Point last year, says it took him a bit of time to find his feet as the car is very different to what he is used to racing.
“It took definitely the morning,” Hulkenberg told Racer. “There was some other stuff here such as with the aeroscreen, there was not much air coming in and I had trouble with that in the morning, so it was a little bit difficult and tricky to feel immediately very happy in the car from a physical point of view.
“Then by lunchtime I felt like I made some good progress and felt a bit more in the groove, and also the lap times and the performance started to come by then.
“I definitely need to hit the gym! I can confirm these are steering monsters! Wow. It’s always different when you experience it yourself but the steering loads are pretty impressive, very heavy.
“With these cars the G-forces are still there, obviously not as extreme as F1 but still there is G going on, and the steering loads combined with that make it a very physical car.”
His first taste of #INDYCAR.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) October 25, 2021
“It’s been a year since I’ve been in a race car, so first of all that was quite nice again,” Hulkenberg added.
“Obviously quite different from a Formula 1 car, just the whole sensation, the experience, the sound, the seating position – everything is different.
“So I had to get my head around that, but I think it was a good and successful day from my point of view and I’m happy to have had the opportunity here. It was great fun.”
But while the car is different, working with the McLaren IndyCar team is “pretty” much the same as it would be working with an F1 team.
“Working with the team was good,” he said. “Very professional. Pretty F1-style, I would say.
“Obviously it’s different out here over by the pit wall and stuff but in terms of how they work and what you talk about and everything, it’s very similar to Formula 1.”