Nico on Melbourne
Nico Hulkenberg talks about the challenge of Albert Park and how much he enjoys visiting Australia.
Nico: “The first race of the season is always a special occasion: a race you really look forward to for a long time. You have a new car to push to the limit in race conditions for the first time, you are often working with new people in the team and it’s the first occasion to spend a race weekend with them: there is always a lot to keep you excited in addition to the regular weekend activities. As a driver, the first race is very interesting – we are as curious as anybody to see where everyone really is compared to the others.
“Albert Park is a pretty nice track and a great venue to start the season. There are plenty of interesting corners, but if I had to pick my favourite part of the lap I would choose the section between turns nine and twelve in sector two – the slow chicane leading to the straight and that fast left-right combination. It’s a track with a few good overtaking spots – turn three and 13, the right-hander after the back straight, come to mind. A lot depends on how the tyres are degrading because being on different strategies can open up new opportunities. Having good downforce is essential and is the main priority when setting up the car.
“I haven’t been very lucky in Melbourne in the past, but I have very good memories from last year’s race. We finished sixth in our first race with the VJM07 – and considering that I had never managed to finish more than one lap in Australia until then, that was a quite welcome development! It was a very good race and I hope we can have another one this year.
“The Australian Grand Prix is a great event, not just for the race, but because of the city and the public. I really love Melbourne and Australia in general. The vibe of the whole country is great; the people are friendly and it’s one of my favourite places to visit. I am also very fond of Sydney: I often go there for a couple of days before the race weekend and I have a lot of friends there. I really enjoy the cool and relaxed Australian lifestyle.”