F1 » 9 January 2012
Hulkenberg looking for long-term stay
Nico Hulkenberg admits that securing himself a long-term position in F1 is his main goal for 2012.
Nico Hulkenberg refuses to lay down a points target for himself in 2012, preferring instead to do what he can to ensure that he does not have to sit out another season like he did in 2011.
The German performed well during his debut season with Williams in 2010, but was forced out of the line-up by the arrival of well-backed GP2 Series champion Pastor Maldonado to partner Rubens Barrichello. With no other rides of comparative strength on offer, Hulkenberg opted to join Force India as reserve driver, with the aim of graduating to the team's race line-up in 2012.
That objective was achieved when Hulkenberg, himself a GP2 champion from 2009, was signed to replace fellow countryman Adrian Sutil, but the young German is not putting himself under any additional pressure to achieve a specific points target as he sets his sights on a longer stay on the grid.
"For me personally, I just want to establish myself in F1," he told GPupdate, "I want to deliver well to make sure I will still be in the sport in 2013 - and many years beyond. I cannot say figures like 'I want to have X amount of points' - that is not possible. I [just] want to do as well as possible and meet the team's expectations."
Hulkenberg is under no illusion that he will be the team's number one driver either, recognising the ability of team-mate Paul di Resta, who moves into his second year as an F1 race driver after a promising 2011 debut.
"Obviously, you always want to beat your team-mate, [but] this will be very tough, because Paul is very talented and has a good approach," Hulkenberg admitted, "Plus, I will need some races to re-find my former level of performance. But we will hopefully push each other and, by doing that, push the team forward as well."
Force India was among the teams that continued to develop and improve its car as the 2011 campaign progressed, and Hulkenberg is hopeful that the Silverstone-based equipe can pick up from where it left off at the start of the new season.
"I think it is possible," he noted, "However, it will not be easy at all. We had a strong package at the end of the season, so obviously we want to continue from where we stopped. We were quite competitive on every type of circuit last year. If you want to finish fifth in the Constructors' Championship, then it is simply necessary. If you're just performing well on one certain type of circuit, you cannot be successful."
Hulkenberg also confirmed what many had expected - that he knew he was safe in Vijay Mallya's line-up well before the wider world was made aware of the Indian's decision. However, he admits that he hopes to be facing off in 2012 with team-mates he has left behind.
"It was a huge relief [to be picked] and now I am really excited to start the new season," he concluded, "Obviously, I knew [the line-up] a bit earlier than the announcement was made but, still, it was a long and hard time not knowing about my future. I hope that both Adrian and Rubens will have a seat in 2012."
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