Nico Hulkenberg says he can 'feel potential' in the new Sauber C32 after concluding his second test in the car in Barcelona on Thursday.
Hulkenberg switched to the Swiss team for 2013 from Force India and will hope to replicate the kind of performances that saw both Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi take podium finishes last year.
Thus far, Hulkenberg has shown some encouraging speed at the wheel of his new car and he said there was plenty of potential to be unlocked as the team continues to work towards the new season.
“I definitely feel potential,” he told the official F1 website. “But where we will end up with this potential on the grid, I don't know. Melbourne will tell us that.
“I am happy with what I feel so far and how the car handles, bearing in mind that there is always room for improvement. Having said that, I have no idea where this will place us in the current pecking order and I doubt if any of my driver colleagues has a clearer picture. Winter testing is simply something completely different from a race weekend: now everybody is running his own programme trying to figure out how the car works and how the car works together with different tyre compounds and different fuel loads.
“What lap times these programmes produce is mainly of negligible importance - the importance is to eliminate errors. On a race weekend it is completely the opposite: everything you do - all Friday and Saturday morning - is meant to produce the fastest time possible in one lap.”
When news broke of Hulkenberg's decision to move away from Force India, questions were raised in some quarters over whether or not his decision to sign with Sauber was simple a sideways step – given the German had previously been mentioned as a possible replacement for Felipe Massa at Ferrari.
However, the 25-year-old insisted that he stood by the decision to join the Swiss team and said there was no reason why he couldn't take his career to the next level in Sauber colours.
“I am happy with where I am - bearing in mind of course that I've only done two tests so far and the season hasn't begun yet,” he said. Ask me after a few races - then it is much easier to answer that question. What I can speak about right here, right now is my own personal feeling: I am confident that I've made the right decision. That is good enough for me.
You never know, the big breakthrough might be here at Sauber. The team had four podiums last year, so who knows? I want to be in Formula One and be successful in the long term, but I don't have a schedule telling me that in two years' time I have to have done that or achieved this. Life is very individual and sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't, so you always have to be ready to redirect your life and ambitions.”