Q & A with Nico Hulkenberg

New Williams race driver Nico Hulkenberg returned to the cockpit of a Formula 1 car for the first time in eight months at Jerez on Wednesday

Q & A with Nico Hulkenberg

After setting the second quickest time of the day behind Gary Paffett's McLaren, the German sat down with AUTOSPORT for a chat about it.

Q. How did your day go?

Nico Hulkenberg: It's been a good day, I think. Me getting back in the car after eight months away was nice. I got the feeling back pretty quickly - I was actually quite surprised by that. We had a lot of good testing and some consistent running.

Q. Was the track in the optimum condition when you set your best time?

NH: I don't know. Usually Jerez is best at the end of the morning and the end of the afternoon. The conditions were pretty consistent throughout the day. Even the bit of rain didn't make much of a difference.

Q. Your best time came at the same point as Andy Soucek's on day one. Were you running the same kind of programme?

NH: I don't know what programme he was on. Mine was, I think, a bit different. It was a lot of prepping for next year, driving with a heavy car and seeing what it's like with the balance and how the tyres behave. These are not next year's tyres, but still we can gather some information. Tomorrow the plan is pretty similar.

Q. How heavy a car have you driven before?

NH: A GP2 car with 90kg of fuel at the start of a race, but next year the fuel tanks in F1 will take much more than that. We ran with a similar level, then more, then less - everything. A good mix.

Q. Did you run any 2010-spec aerodynamic or mechanical parts?

NH: Nothing of that really. Not that I'm aware of. We just did some set-up work.

Q. Is it an advantage having been with Williams for so long and not having to learn the faces and workings of the team as you acclimatise to a Formula 1 car?

NH: It's been a good time, winning the title in GP2 and being with Williams. I'm happy with that. Having a deal in place already just makes it a bit better. I've been here two years now - since 2008. I know a lot of people, which is good and helps integrate me quicker.

Q. Are the stories that Ferrari approached you for a race seat after Felipe Massa's Hungaroring accident true?

NH: Yes. They are true.

Q. How serious were the discussions?

NH: Ferrari contacted my manager Willi Weber. They had a bit of interest and there was some contact. It didn't come out that way, as we know, and I think it worked out for the best, because I was able to finish GP2, win it and start F1 clean with Williams.

Q. Are you glad you turned down Ferrari? Neither Giancarlo Fisichella nor Luca Badoer scored a championship point with the team?

NH: For sure it would have been bad for me not only to leave GP2 when I was in a position to win the title, but also for my reputation to be affected by bad results in F1.

Q. Like Romain Grosjean?

NH: Yes, look what happened to him. But sure he's a talented and very quick driver, and he can bounce back. Sure he had a tough time in a few races in Formula 1. Then when people like [Kamui] Kobayashi turn up and do two races and look really good, it's a bad situation for him. For sure he can come back though.

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