14 January 2014
Hulkenberg: Nobody knows what to expect from F1 2014
Nico Hulkenberg expects everyone to be flying blind when 2014 f1 testing gets underway at Jerez later this month.
Nico Hulkenberg is eager to see his Force India team take advantage of the biggest technical shake-up F1 has witnessed in many years.
The German, who returns to the Silverstone-based outfit after a year with Sauber, insists that, with the playing field levelled by the change in engine, drivetrain and aerodynamic regulations, no-one quite knows how the 2014 season will pan out, and sees opportunities for the midfield teams to make early inroads as they seek to topple their high-flying rivals.
“Never before there has been a situation like this when, with just a couple of weeks before the first test, nobody has any idea of where everyone is,” Hulkenberg told the team's official website, “It's a pretty unique situation for everyone. It's a challenge, an opportunity to do something special, but on the other hand it opens up the opportunity to do mistakes, so we will need to do our work well.”
With Lotus having already decided to skip the opening test at Jerez in favour of working longer on its E22, there is obviously concern among the teams that reliability will be an issue heading to Melbourne for round one of the season in March, and Hulkenberg knows that that can work both ways for a team like Force India, which is hoping to move into a top five constructors' spot after holding fifth place down for so long in 2013.
“At the moment, nobody knows how this season and the new cars are going to be,” the German conceded, “There are a lot of questions which we can't really answer until we have been on the track, running – not even the first race will be the absolute truth teller. There will be a lot of data we need to look at and analyse, work with it to go forward.
Having been a beneficiary of Force India's second half decline last season – when the mandatory switch of tyres on safety grounds worked against the Silverstone team but in Sauber's favour – Hulkenberg is well aware that the slightest gain can have a major effect in altering the balance of power, and hopes that Force India, which abandoned development of its 2013 car relatively early in order to focus on 2014, can continue to push throughout the coming campaign.
“It is obviously always nice to start in a strong way, but it's also very important to keep that strength during the year,” he confirmed, “The season is quite long, from March to November [and] a lot can happen in such a long time. Last year was a very good example [as] the form of many teams came and went as the year progressed.
“The target is to start well and try to maintain this kind of performance throughout the year. That's the challenge – to keep up the development, bring new parts and keep competitive all the time.”
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