Chess Game - Q&A with Nico Hülkenberg

A tactical battle in Bahrain led Nico Hülkenberg to a hard-fought sixth place and more points in the championship standings. Now the German has his sights quickly focused on another haul in Shanghai.

What are your thoughts from a sixth-place finish in Bahrain?
It’s a decent result in the end and more points in the bag for the championship. Qualifying could have gone slightly better, given my Q2 lap would have placed me further up the grid for the race. But that’s racing and we’ll take the points and move on to the next one. We’ve certainly learnt quite a bit last weekend and we head to China with things to work on. Every track is different and I’m sure China will bring its own challenges. We’ll go there aiming to keep improving.

What stands-out from the Shanghai International Circuit?
The track is famous for the never-ending turn one / turn two combination. It’s a tricky complex because it’s easy to go in too hot, especially during qualifying, and it really eats the front-left tyre. This combination really draws you in, as it goes on a long time after a really fast entry. You are decreasing speed after that as it gets tighter and tighter and seems to go on forever, before reaching the downhill, hairpin turn three. The first lap on race day usually gets a bit tasty there, and it’s important to get the elbows out and hold your ground.

What other challenges does the circuit bring?
Historically, in China, looking after the tyres has been hard work. The first few corners are notorious for tyre-deg and later on in the lap, turn 13 is another long right-hander that takes even more life out of them. After that unique first sector, the rest of the lap has a bit of everything from low-speed to high-speed, which makes it challenging to find a balanced set-up. There’s a big long straight where you have enough time for a game of chess as you’re going in a straight line with your foot hard down for so long, then you wake up and you’re hard on the brakes. It’s really important to get your braking right there as it’s a pretty important corner. Again, on Sunday, it’s going to be one of the main overtaking spots.