x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Formula One: Nico Hulkenberg has moved on from Melbourne setback

German driver Nico Hulkenberg explains that he has put another disastrous visit to Melbourne in the rear view mirror and is now focused on the Malaysain Grand Prix, writes Gary Meenaghan.

After not completing a single lap last weekend in Melbourne, German driver Nico Hulkenberg does not feel he is at a disadvantage. Samsul Said / Reuters
After not completing a single lap last weekend in Melbourne, German driver Nico Hulkenberg does not feel he is at a disadvantage. Samsul Said / Reuters

German driver Nico Hulkenberg's retirement before the start of the Australian Grand Prix last weekend marked the third time he has been to Melbourne and the third time he has failed to complete a lap. This weekend, in Malaysia, he is sure the problems are behind him as he prepares for his debut at Sauber.

Australia must have been one of the most disappointing weekends of your career?

Yes, it was pretty disappointing. My races get shorter and shorter each year there. The engineers had a deep look at what happened and they understand the problem. A strong vacuum developed in the tank, which did damage to the tank and then a security issue stopped us from running. In Germany we have a saying, it is three things and then it must be over, so hopefully that rule applies.

Were there any positives at all to take out of the weekend?

Yeah, there were a few. The working relationship with the new team and the engineers and how that is growing. You know, communication is improving all the time. In terms of performance, it is difficult to say when you don't race and obviously the qualifying was special circumstances [held Sunday morning after heavy rain the previous afternoon]."

Considering your rivals got more time on track and in competitive conditions, does that put you on the back foot going into the second race of the year?

No. I don't feel on the back foot. If you haven't done the race, it is hard to comment, because maybe you could have done better or worse than expected; you just can't tell. So that makes it disappointing, but I wouldn't say we are on the back foot. What we have seen from the car is that the performance is at a level where we can definitely challenge for points.

Do you have good memories of this circuit? Is it a race you enjoy?

Yeah. I've done two grands prix and scored points in both races and had a good race here in A1 as well, so it's definitely a track that is a bit more friendly towards me.

The weather is predictably hot and humid with intermittent rain forecast for all three days. Any preference for a wet race or dry race?

You don't have a choice here. You have to live with what you get. Often we're on the grid and the rain starts, so you just have to take it as it comes. But I'm happy with either. No preference.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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