New Territory - Q&A with Nico Hülkenberg

Nico Hülkenberg heads to the slightly unfamiliar Circuit Paul Ricard on the back of a bright weekend in Montréal, where he claimed a solid seventh place courtesy of a cool and composed performance.

How excited are you for the French Grand Prix?
I’m very much looking forward to racing at Circuit Paul Ricard. It’s been a long time coming for Renault, 10 years since their last race on home soil, so I’m carrying that extra level of motivation to do the job proud on track. I know how much this means to the staff members of the team!

What do you know about Circuit Paul Ricard?
I know the circuit quite well actually, so it’s not like going in totally blind. I’ve driven a few laps there back when I was preparing for the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours. The characteristics of the circuit are quite similar to the last round in Montréal, especially the long straights with need for a high-top speed, as well as heavy braking zones. Friday practice is going be important for all teams and drivers to get up to speed of learning a new circuit, but that’s a challenge I look forward to and I’ll be doing my best to discover some secrets.

How does a driver prepare for a new circuit on the calendar?
Completing laps on the simulator is a good starting point, and we’ll be spending a day at Enstone going through set-ups and trying to get some data on board before we head there. Then it’s about working hard with your engineers, learning and listening, before putting it all into practice and trying to get as many laps as possible chalked up through the Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Is the Hulk happy after sealing the ‘best of the rest’ accolade in Canada?
It was a pleasing weekend in the end for the whole team, ten points in the bag and taking a positive step ahead of our nearest rival. Of course, finishing seventh is essentially the best we can achieve at the moment if the top six finish the race, but that doesn’t deter from the fact we have a lot to work on and many areas to improve to close the gap to the front.