Nico Hulkenberg completed two days of running with Williams at Jerez, with the fourth fastest time and less than a second away from the ultimate pace.
In an interview with the assembled press at the Spanish track, the German rookie expressed his satisfaction at his running in the wet and his happiness with the Cosworth engine. AUTOSPORT was there to hear what he had to say.
Q. Are you satisfied with what you accomplished after two days in the car?
Nico Hulkenberg: I'm certainly satisfied with yesterday, I think 80 laps in the wet is a lot of running. We did some good testing yesterday and I was pretty happy with it. Today, even the running we did was not bad, we got some good results from our testing. But we targeted a lot more mileage and laps than we did today so that's a bit disappointing, but you that's life.
Q. How is the balance of the car, is it consistent throughout a wider fuel range?
NH: Yes it is not too bad. I think every team still needs to learn and understand how it works with the new tyres, and how to get it working properly. I am pretty happy with our car right now.
Q. Saving the tyres was very important in GP2, and now it is a key factor in F1. What is the difference in driving style to the two series with the tyres?
NH: I think it is absolutely the same, because the theory is the same. You start with a full tank set-up; in GP2 it is just 100 kilos, in F1 it is 170 kilos, but it is absolutely the same.
Q. Is this good news for you given your recent experience with that style of racing?
NH: Well it is something I'm used to, let's say it like that.
Q. You were quite quick yesterday, do you think it is a good way to judge a car, to run in the wet?
NH: It is difficult to know, you still have these fuel loads which affect the lap times. It's very difficult to judge right now, who is quickest and what is the order. I don't know to be honest, I'm a bit in the dark. But I don't care so much, all we can do right now is get the best performance out of our car and our package. Prepare as well as we can and then go to the races and then we will see anyway where we are.
Q. What area of the car would you like to improve the most?
NH: We are always looking for performance, that is the most important thing in F1.
Q. Is it less understeer or something else?
NH: Well there are a few things. You look for performance, then you need to get the balance right, and then there are different fuel loads, so there are different things to look at.
Q. How have you found the performance of the Cosworth engine?
NH: Good. I'm very positively surprised about it. There have been no issues with reliability or driveability. It is all pretty good to be honest.
Q. Can you make any comparison with the Toyota engine?
NH: Yeah it feels better, it feels stronger. I can feel that.
Q. In Jerez you said you were going to be working with each department to try and step up your understanding to provide the team with useful feedback. Where are you with that?
NH: I did all this last year and through December. I think I am ready and I can do it.
Q. Your team-mate Rubens Barrichello is super-experienced, what have you picked up from him so far?
NH: Well there is a lot of little detailed things. In Valencia I was there one day early listening on the radio, go to the debrief, see the way he drives, look at the data after. It's just little details that racing drivers look at, it is not one particular thing.
Q. Can you give us an example of how his approach is different to yours?
NH: I don't think it is much different. Obviously he has all the experience and the background with his thousands of races.
Q. Are you driving the F1 car in mainly the same way as Rubens or do you different characteristics?
NH: I think it may be a bit early to say. We just had one day in Valencia and we just had two days here. A bit early to compare this.
Q. Will you be using the same set-ups as him or do you want to do everything in your own way?
NH: We are different drivers so one prefers this and one prefers that and there is always, I think, a compromise. I work with my engineer but we always keep an eye on what he is doing to see which direction he is going, and whether it is where we are going.
Q. When Romain Grosjean went to Renault he wanted to do the same things as Fernando Alonso because he wanted a point of comparison...
NH: We will compare in qualifying anyway. We will all have the same fuel load in the race, so you will always have this comparison.
Q. Williams is having to work through a programme with the Cosworth engine. There is a lot of new systems on the car as well. Is it a little bit frustrating, when you have such a small amount of time, to go through these sort of system runs?
NH: I think as a team they have 15 days, which is not nothing. For the drivers we just have half of that each. So they can sign off all of their system checks and all that stuff.
Q. But do you have enough time to work on set-ups and things like that?
NH: If you give more testing to a Formula 1 team it will always take it for sure. I am just starting in F1 so I think I can improve in every area, it's just about getting more experience and more impressions from other drivers, team-mates every day, so there is a lot of room for improvement.
Q. Does it feel more comfortable being part of the race team?
NH: I know these guys. I have been here two years. This is the test team with some of the race guys and I have worked with them for one or more years, so I know the people. I know my engineer, it's a bit like home, so from that aspect I feel very comfortable in the team.
Q. So you could start the race tomorrow, are you ready?
NH: Well I'm okay, but I don't know where I would end up in the ranking!
Q. How did you find the intermediate tyres yesterday, they were wearing pretty quickly?
NH: Yeah that's true. Even with a fairly big amount of water on the track they still seemed a bit too soft. They were wearing quite a lot and quite quick.
Q. So do you think that could be a problem over the next couple of days?
NH: Yeah it could be. It depends what compound Bridgestone brings during the season, but it could be an issue during the race.
Q. Are you happy with the way the rear tyres are holding up with the heavier fuel loads in the dry?
NH: I think again there is also room for improvement. We saw quite a bit of degradation at the beginning of testing, and for sure we can improve on this point.