Nico Hulkenberg is determined to kick-start his Formula One career again in 2012 and cement his place on the grid…
Nico Hulkenberg is determined to kick-start his Formula One career again in 2012 and cement his place on the grid.
The 24-year-old will be back behind the wheel of an F1 car on race days next year after Force India opted to hand him a drive with Adrian Sutil the man to make way.
Hulkenberg, who drove for Williams during his debut season in 2010 before being unceremoniously dumped for Pastor Maldonado this season, is looking forward to returning to action after spending a season as the Silverstone squad’s reserve and test driver.
“I’m lucky that the year of being a reserve driver is over and now hopefully I’m looking forward to a brighter future,” he told the official Force India website.
“I did 14 free practice sessions, which kept me very sharp, and kept me in there. I think also if you look at all the lap times, I have been close to – or even in front of – the race drivers.
“Establishing myself in F1 is the initial goal, not just for one year, but for many more years. And then we’ll see where it goes.”
Having spent so many Friday sessions behind the wheel in 2011, Hulkenberg believes he has picked up quite a few things.
“You learn a lot, but in a different way,” he said.
“Now I know very much how it works from the outside, how the team operates in the garage and on the pitwall, which might help in the future.
“Obviously not having the racing experience in 2011 is hurting more, but I had quite a bit of experience in 2010 and before that in GP2 and F3, so I know what to expect. It’s just a question of how quickly I can get back into that weekend rhythm, getting your mindset for qualifying, and for the race.”
As for his partnership with Paul di Resta at Force India next year, the German knows he will have to perform well to beat his team-mate.
“He’s a very ambitious, talented and intelligent guy,” he said.
“I rate him highly. He’s shown a lot of good stuff in his first season. It’s not going to be easy to beat him, but it’s a good challenge, and I think together we can push ourselves and the team forward.”