Q & A with Nico Hulkenberg

As pre-season favourites like Romain Grosjean and Lucas di Grassi's challenges faltered, it was reigning Formula 3 Euro Series champion - and former A1GP king - Nico Hulkenberg who came through and took charge of the 2009 GP2 Series

Q & A with Nico Hulkenberg

At Monza this morning the young German clinched the title with a sensible third place ahead of championship rival Vitaly Petrov. AUTOSPORT was there to hear from him afterwards.

Q. This weekend was quite different from the other ones - the impression was that you were managing things a bit more in terms of points than usual.

Nico Hulkenberg: Of course when you come to the end of a championship the pressure is higher, but I think we deal with it quite well. Yesterday I just did some driver mistakes - it can happen, it was not because of any pressure. The conditions were very difficult, and it's easy to go off the track here at Monza, with so little downforce. But today was nice - winning [the title] with P3, a podium, even though again it was a tough race.

Q. What about the next race at Portimao? Presumably you want to help ART to win the teams' title?

NH: For sure. We want to win again.

Q. So how does it feel to be GP2 champion?

NH: Bloody s**t. I am so sad right now... No, it feels like before. Since Nurburgring, Valencia, we have had a lot of good weekends, so you grow into this and then you kind of expect it. Our expectation was to win and finally we did it, so we're very happy about that. But expectations were high, as well.

Q. And the next step is Formula 1?

NH: Definitely, yeah.

Q. GP2 is not easy for the rookies traditionally. Did you expect this result in your first year?

NH: No, I didn't expect to be champion in my first year. Especially after the first three weekends when Barwa [Addax] was so far away, [Romain] Grosjean, with the points. But then we made up a lot of ground, improved our speed and our car, I got better and better in the car - as a rookie I had to get some mileage to deal with the car better during races, save my tyres more - and then I think we had our high at Nurburgring, Valencia, Spa. All those were very good weekends. We scored a lot of points and were very consistent, and consistency is what wins championships.

Q. Was there one weekend where it all started to click and come together, or was it a gradual thing?

NH: Yeah. It is a slow process, but we started to feel better and more confident with Silverstone, and then Nurburgring, Hungaroring. And then I just felt very confident and very at home in the car.

Q. How did things change when Grosjean left for F1?

NH: I think it was less difficult. He was the main rival. Petrov did a very good job at the end - maybe even a better job than Grosjean did before he left - but he was one of the main contenders and it was a loss for the GP2 championship. But when such an opportunity comes up, no one says no. Even I wouldn't have said no. It's great for him, he deserved it.

Q. Next weekend you can go to the Algarve without having the championship to think about. Are you looking forward to having the freedom to just go racing without the extra pressure?

NH: Yeah, definitely. It's nice. We have a great team, we do great teamwork, and we just want to do a good job and score some points - no, win. We want to win there.

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