Nico Hulkenberg says he hopes to carry the momentum he generated towards the end of 2012 into the new F1 season, despite the fact he will line up with a new team in Australia in March.
The German scored points in five of the final six races of the season and led for a spell in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos before a clash with Lewis Hamilton while battling for top spot led to him picking up a penalty that dropped him to fifth at the finish.
Hulkenberg will now move to Sauber for the 2013 season and having shown his pace on his return to a race seat this year, the former Williams man said he was confident of producing the goods with his new team next year.
“There is no warm-up phase anymore, so I personally hope that I start performing right at the point where I finished at the end of 2012 - and that was a very promising point,” he told the official F1 website. “I am changing teams so there will be a 'getting to know each other' phase but I am confident that this will go smoothly.
“I feel ready [to lead Sauber]. It's not a case of bringing extra pressure, it's something that helps motivate me even more, but to be honest I don't see my role as much different to the one I was in this year. I will simply concentrate on my job of trying to deliver good results.”
Reflecting on his 2012 season, Hulkenberg said he was pleased with the way in which he had performed after a year away from the grid and admitted that the extra time on track had allowed him to improve as a driver.
“For me it has been a great year with Force India,” he said. “I will keep so many good memories from 2012. Like I said before, initially I needed some time to get back into the groove after 2011 without racing, but I think we - the team and me - made some really good progress throughout the year with the team improving the car's performance and me developing alongside as well. So there is only good that I can speak about - no bad and no ugly!
“2012 was my second year as an active driver so there was plenty to learn and I think that I have made a step forward during the year as a driver, especially in qualifying. I feel that was an area where I improved throughout the season. F1 is still a very technical and complex sport so for me the experience you gain is a big benefit. It might sound a bit simple, but mileage - race mileage - is what makes a big difference in the end.”