Nico Hulkenberg raved about his first day in Racing Point’s RP20 following his 11th-hour call-up to drive for the team this weekend.Sergio Perez’s car.
“The last 24 hours have been a bit special,” said Hulkenberg. “Crazy and wild.
“At 4:30pm yesterday afternoon I got the call, took a plane here. Had a seat fitting until 2am last night. Then 8am this morning into the simulator for an hour, a bit of prep work, so it was a short night. But all worthwhile.
“It was a great effort by the team, I want to thank the team and the night shift guys that did an amazing job to fit me in the car and even quite comfortably and the FIA for turning it around so fat on the superlicence. It’s been very special.”
The brief simulator session gave Hulkenberg a chance to learn the basics of the RP20.
“I got to grips pretty quickly with things. It was just a little bit to get used to the steering wheel and some of the functions. We didn’t have heaps of time because I had to be tested as well.”
Hulkenberg hasn’t driven an F1 car since December last year, and he admitted he felt the strain on his body after his first day in the RP20.
“We got the programme in, many laps, which I feel. I’ve been really thrown into the cold water here. I think my body will feel that tomorrow and the day after. It’s obviously a huge challenge but I’m not shy of that.”
“The G-forces are tough to train for because it’s so unique and so special,” he added. “Even though I’m in decent shape these kind of G-force and especially around here, one of the fastest, high-speed tracks. And 35 degrees, I also choose the hottest day of the UK so far. I’ve got the best of everything.”
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He said the car felt “quite different” to the Renault he drove last year. “I tried to take it step-by-step today, get up to speed with the car, understand it,” he said.
“It just takes time to inhale everything, understand it, know how you have to drive it and learn. Obviously there’s more time to tonight to focus on learning. All I can say is it’s pretty quick around here nowadays.”
Having ended his first day of practice six-tenths of a second behind team mate and pace-setter Lance Stroll, Hulkenberg says there is more to come from him tomorrow.
“You see the huge potential,” he said. “The car is massively fast.
“I didn’t exploit the top tyre that well, I think I have a bit more in the bag and I need to use that tyre better. But that’s what we’re going to work on, obviously, through the night and trying to get the best possible from the car this weekend.”
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