Nico Hulkenberg says he is excited by the prospect of returning to an F1 race seat when the 2012 season gets underway this weekend in Australia.

The German found himself without a drive last season after being dropped by Williams and instead spent 2011 in the role of test and reserve driver with Force India.

Having been promoted into a race seat for 2012 in place of countryman Adrian Sutil, Hulkenberg will take part in his first race since Abu Dhabi 2010 when the new season starts at Albert Park and said it was good to be back.

"There's a lot of excitement - that's the word I keep using to describe how I'm feeling," he said, "and I think it will continue until the Sunday morning in Melbourne when I wake up knowing I will be racing again in a few hours. That's when you feel the buzz and get the feeling of anticipation in your stomach.

"Testing has gone pretty well and it's been crucial for helping me get prepared. But I know testing is very different to racing because you don't have the same pressures of a race weekend. I think the true test will be qualifying when you have to deliver right away and you only get one chance."

Regardless of the excitement, one thing Hulkenberg will hope for this weekend is a better race than back in 2010 when he sampled the Melbourne circuit for the first time.

"My first race there in 2010 was cut short - only half a lap, but apart from that I have good memories from Melbourne and Australia in general," he said. "It's one of those venues with a special atmosphere and the whole city seems so relaxed and friendly. It's definitely up there with races like Monaco and Singapore in terms of the atmosphere and support from the fans."