Hulkenberg: Malaysia is going to be a tough challenge and a good test of the new cars

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth in the season opening Australian Grand Prix, enjoying a strong weekend in Melbourne and now the German looks forward to Round Two in Malaysia where he hopes to capitalise on a good race car.

Looking back on Melbourne, did the weekend unfold as you expected?
Nico Hulkenberg: I tried to be open-minded going into the race and in reality it was all quite straightforward. It almost felt like a normal race from last year with no major surprises. There were no concerns for us with the fuel management, which was helped by the extra parade lap and the early Safety Car, and we ran reliably during all the sessions, which is a big positive to take forward.

Now that we’ve had a race weekend, how did you find the car to drive?
NH: Again it’s not too dissimilar to last year. It’s a bit slower because of the regulations and you feel the loss of downforce compared with 2013. Overtaking also seemed to be quite difficult, unless you are following a car that is really struggling. For example, you could see that Fernando [Alonso] couldn’t really make a move on me.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Qualifying Day - Melbourne, Australia

Were the tyres a bigger factor than you expected, in Australia?
NH: We had issues with front left graining in the race, which we didn’t have all weekend. I think it was due to the cooler temperatures and it cost quite a bit of performance in the first two stints on the Soft tyre. On the Medium it was pretty good.

Based on what you learned in Melbourne, what kind of championship can we expect this year?
NH: This year we’ll see bigger jumps and changes in the pecking order during the season. There are still some teams that need to sort out their issues and they will probably become stronger. All teams, including us, will have room for improvement and development is going to be very fast.

What can we expect in Malaysia this weekend?
NH: Malaysia is going to be a tough challenge with totally different track characteristics and higher temperatures, which always leads to higher tyre degradation. It should be a good test of the new cars because it’s much more open than Melbourne with a nice variation of high and low-speed corners, plus two long straights.

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