Nico Hulkenberg believes how the new Pirelli tyres perform in Melbourne has the potential to provide opportunities for Force India to make valuable gains on its rivals.

The German driver is gearing up for the Formula 1 season opener at Albert Park and sees the Australian race as a special event as it marks a fresh start for all the teams and drivers.

The Force India driver was satisfied with pre-season testing despite the team having severely limited running time in its VJM08 car. Hulkenberg had just one-and-a-half days in the new car at the final pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Related Articles

Looking to Melbourne, Hulkenberg feels the VJM08 can make up for its lack of pre-season testing with the use of different strategy to its competitors and he says tyre degradation will be key around the city street circuit.

"It's a track with a few good overtaking spots - turn three and 13, the right-hander after the back straight, come to mind," Hulkenberg said. "A lot depends on how the tyres are degrading because being on different strategies can open up new opportunities. Having good downforce is essential and is the main priority when setting up the car."

Pirelli has been using updated tyre compounds during the pre-season tests in Barcelona but hasn't been able to see how they perform in higher temperatures due to the cold conditions. Depending on the weather, Albert Park could provide the tyres with the first serious test in heat and high usage.

Hulkenberg enjoyed his best Australian GP 12 months ago, finishing sixth, as all the teams got to grips with the new power unit regulations. The German driver feels more comfortable with the hybrid power units with a year of experience under his belt and is intrigued to see how the full Formula 1 grid will shape up in racing conditions.

"The first race is very interesting - we are as curious as anybody to see where everyone really is compared to the others," he said. "Albert Park is a pretty nice track and a great venue to start the season. There are plenty of interesting corners, but if I had to pick my favourite part of the lap I would choose the section between turns nine and twelve in sector two - the slow chicane leading to the straight and that fast left-right combination.

"I haven't been very lucky in Melbourne in the past, but I have very good memories from last year's race. We finished sixth in our first race with the VJM07 - and considering that I had never managed to finish more than one lap in Australia until then, that was a quite welcome development. It was a very good race and I hope we can have another one this year."