From Russia with Love - Q&A with Nico Hülkenberg

Nico Hülkenberg heads to Sochi with a sense of satisfaction after a productive Bahrain test as well as wearing a happy face for a track he rather likes.

What’s the mood headed to Sochi?
I have quite a bit of optimism! I think we made good progress to enable us to improve our race pace for Sochi when we were testing in Bahrain and we have some new bits for the car to facilitate this too. Of course, the Sochi Autodrom is a completely different circuit, so we can’t accurately predict our relative performance until we get there, but I’m feeling positive.

What do you think of the event?
I like travelling to Russia, it’s a cool place and I like the track and infrastructure there. Of course, my main focus is on the track itself and it’s a good one to drive, so I go there with a happy face. . I think we’ve made good progress with the car with some positive updates, which should also make me happy.

What are your thoughts of the track when you’re behind the wheel?
It’s one of the longer laps of the season and this is compounded by there being a lot of corners. This makes it a big challenge for any driver as you need to get every turn in each sector together perfectly, especially in qualifying. It’s a very quick and flowing track, which is why I like it so much. There are a number of tricky bits too, especially braking into the corner at the end of the back straight. The final sector is a bit more technical and slow in its nature, but overall it’s a fun track.

What was on your wish list for improvement at the Bahrain test?
Of course, I’m a race driver so I want improvement in every area! The car is basically good, it’s just a number details where we need to improve. The positive is we know what these areas are and what we need to do to improve them. We want more downforce and to improve the car aerodynamically and we want to use the tyres better in the race.

What’s you track record like in Russia?
I haven’t had the greatest amount of luck in Sochi with two retirements and a 12th placed finish, so it would be great to score my first points there in 2017!

Three races in, how are you enjoying racing the latest generation F1 car wheel to wheel?
It’s fun, but you get used to new things so quickly! We’re on top of the new level of downforce from a driving point of view; it’s quickly the status quo. It’s a different experience racing wheel to wheel, but I want to be doing this more through fighting my way up the order!