Enter Sandman - Q&A with Nico Hülkenberg

After a great qualifying performance in Shanghai it was a punishing and penalising Chinese Grand Prix for our Hulk, who’s hoping for better things in Bahrain.

How are you approaching race three of 2017?
I’m heading to Bahrain with fewer winter clothes in my suitcase after the cold and wet we had in Shanghai; it should be a big contrast and I have my sunscreen at the ready! In terms of the venue, the Bahrain International Circuit is a great facility and it’s quite a technical track with the added challenges of a variable wind direction and the scope for sand on track too. I really like Bahrain and the atmosphere there.

What’s the key to getting a good performance on the Bahrain International Circuit?
It’s a technical track and you have to be smooth and gentle yet, obviously, as fast as possible. Sand is a crucial element if it’s windy and gusty it gets blown on to the track so from one session to another can vary a lot. You’re always adapting to the grip levels as well as the wind direction, which can also present a challenge to getting the perfect lap. We know it’s going to be pretty hot, but that’s not so much of a factor now as we race far later than we used to here and it does cool reasonably quickly once the sun is down.

What’s notable on a lap?
There are a decent amount of challenges. There’s a long straight with hard braking into turn one where you need to lose about 240kph and it’s easy to go too deep into the corner. It’s pretty traction limited on exit so you’re fighting the rear end. It will be interesting to see how much difference there is with the new wider tyres and the greater downforce.

T4 is another heavy braking point into what is quite a long corner and a little off camber. T5-6 is a very fast combination and pretty good fun if you nail it right. T8 is a tight and slow hairpin and another place where it’s easy to out-brake yourself with front-locking, especially if you get off-line. T9-10 is a long left-hander where you’re braking deep into it, trail-braking is always difficult because of the propensity for front-locking once more as well as the variability of wind direction trying to trick you too; headwind is your friend for braking late, tailwind is your enemy. The final sector is very fast and flowing which sets you up for the long, fast pit straight.

Predictions for the race?
Let’s see what happens.