MELBOURNE, March 14th, 2014 (F1Plus / Jacob Polychronis) Nico Hulkenberg is confident heading into the first Grand Prix of the season despite ending Friday practice in the turn 9 gravel pit.
The Force India driver was 10th fastest in FP2, with a time of 1.31.054, 1.429 seconds behind the leading Lewis Hamilton. Hulkenberg represented a confident figure during interviewing, regardless of returning to pit lane without his car.
“[It was] A fairly positive day I would say with no technical issues. Everything went smoothly so we could pretty much go through our program like a normal Friday.”
“Of course we have done testing but you can’t expect to go into the first weekend and have a smooth Friday like towards the end of last year. So from that point of view – touchwood – it’s been very positive.”
The German’s incident was simply due to driver error, as he slipped two tyres on to the grass whilst braking for the chicane. Nonetheless, there was no damage to report from the incident, allowing the team to continue with their development.
“Obviously we are still learning and trying to optimise the performance of the car. But [there are] no big issues.”
Life in the mid-table
Hulkenberg expects Force India to resume its status as a mid-table team when the season commences on the weekend.
“I think we are around about the top 10 area.”
“Mercedes is on top. I think after that it is Red Bull.”
Despite the German’s upbeat attitude, Hulkenberg remains cautious of what lies ahead on the weekend.
“We understand the car and there is no problem on the horizon that we can see. At the moment we are good but maybe something will happen, you never know.”
“I think that’s where we sit today (top ten) so let’s see where we sit tomorrow.”
This weekend’s race sees Hulkenberg complete his second-coming at Force India, after ending a one-year stint with Sauber.
Also pleasing for Hulkenberg was ending the day 0.229 seconds faster than his new team-mate, Sergio Perez.