Nico Hulkenberg plays down the 'Le Mans effect' on his F1 form
Hulkenberg believes his "positive run" started at the Canadian GP
By James Galloway at the Red Bull Ring
Last Updated: 21/06/15 11:22am
Nico Hulkenberg has played down the effect his victory in the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours race last weekend has had on his F1 form after he qualified a stunning fifth in Austria.
The Force India man has received widespread acclaim from fellow drivers and experts since arriving at the Red Bull Ring after he became the first active F1 driver for 24 years to win the world famous sportscar race for Porsche last weekend alongside team-mates Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.
On his return to his day job in Austria, Hulkenberg produced the starring performance in qualifying by splitting the Williams cars to take fifth on the grid – the German’s best grid slot since last year’s British GP.
But asked if he felt more confident on the back of his first victory in any motor race since 2009, Hulkenberg replied: “Not much to be honest. It’s a very different feeling obviously – I’ve won a major race together with Porsche and my team-mates. But even in Montreal I was having a very good weekend, so that positive run started there.
“Even in Monaco it was a good race, I just had an unfortunate first lap. We had quite a few races where it wasn’t so trouble-free and it wasn’t coming out. There was good performance but we couldn’t show it for recent reasons. Now we had a clean run in Montreal – obviously Le Mans is on its own there – and it’s gone well so far here.”
Hulkenberg, who also qualified and finished in the top eight in Montreal, admits he was surprised to qualify quite so high up but says the VJM08 felt at home in the drying track conditions.
“I felt quite good all weekend long in the car so a top-10 finish was always possible, but fifth is definitely better than expected and outperforming one Williams is a surprise,” he said.
“We just had a very good clean run. I got into a great rhythm and built up the confidence more and more – run after run it got better. The rain we had as well washed the track a little bit and then we started more or less on a ‘green’ track. The car seemed to quite like that.”
Both Force India drivers have been running Mercedes’ latest-specification engine this weekend, but Hulkenberg said: “We had all the Mercedes power already in Montreal from modes point of view, now we have the hardware as well. I don’t think it’s much different from Montreal.”
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