Nico Hulkenberg admits it was a relief to final be confirmed in a race seat with Force India for the 2012 season, revealing that it 'wasn't the most comfortable situation to be in' as he waited to discover his future.
Although widely expected to replace Adrian Sutil, Hulkenberg only discovered he would partner Paul di Resta when Force India confirmed its line-up last week, with the German stepping up from the role of test and reserve driver into a race seat.
Confirmation came after a nervous wait for both Hulkenberg and di Resta and the former Williams driver said he was relieved to discover he will be back in a race seat for the first time since the 2010 season finale.
“It was a relief!” he told the official F1 website. “For as long as you haven't been given a thumbs up that your future is secured, you always feel some 'light' tension. It was a fantastic moment when all the pressure suddenly fell away.
“It was not the most comfortable situation to be in. But now the only thing that really counts is that I am back on the grid and I have forgotten all those days of guessing and hoping.”
Hulkenberg added that his role as third driver this season had allowed him to keep himself race ready and enabled him to work with the team on the development of the car he will now race in 2012.
“Obviously I was not racing, but at least it kept me sharp, I believe,” he said. “Even though I hardly ever drove more than 20 laps during the sessions, I always adapted very quickly - better than even I expected. At the beginning of next year I will need some time to regain the level I had at the end of 2010, but with the help of the team, I hope to get there again pretty quickly.
“I have tried my best to help the engineers with the development of the new car, so I have been informed about its progress and every single step we have taken. And I have seen the car already. But over the winter months the teams are always a little in the dark, because you don't know where your competitors stand. I hope, that we will be able to make the next significant step forward in 2012. I feel that the whole team - including our new chairman Subratra Roy Sahara - feels that we are entering a new dimension. Believe me, we all want more!”