Photo: 2012 Sahara Force India Formula One Team
The word out on the F1 rumour mill is that Mercedes has set its sights on Sahara Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg as a suitable replacement for Michael Schumacher for the 2013 season.
The German has also been linked to Ferrari and Hulkenberg has mentioned that he would relish the chance to drive alongside Fernando Alonso.
Talk about drivers moving about is not unusual and usually comes into full swing right after the mid-season races. But despite all the talk, Hulkenberg says he is only focused about performing well for Force India right now
“I’m very happy and comfortable at Force India F1 team at present. This is only my second year in F1 and I’m not yet thinking about changing a team so soon. But if the opportunity arises, who wouldn’t want it right?” says Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg who is currently at a career-best fourth place when Sahara Force India secured 13 points from the action-packed Formula One Belgian Grand Prix .
This pushed Hulkenberg ahead of team-mate Paul di Resta in the championship rankings and elevated Force India to seventh in the constructors' standings, above Williams, which failed to score.
But things didn’t go to well at the next race in Italy: Starting from last position the 25-year-old fought his way through the midfield, but had to retire due to an issue with his brakes.
inSing.com spoke with Hulkenberg over the phone after the race where he talks about the upcoming race weekend in Singapore
How’s the 2012 season been for you so far? Have things gone as expected?
It has been a very difficult season. We (Sahara Force India) faced some ups and downs just like every other team in F1. There were some races where we could have achieved a little bit more but we were up against some very competitive teams. Overall, we did alright but we could do much, much better.
The team did a great job to finish sixth last year. How tough is it going to be to repeat that, given the strength of the middle of the field?
The midfield battle is very close this season. And as I’ve said earlier, it’s going to be a difficult feat but as long as everyone is on the same page as to where we want to be this season. As a team, we need to keep our heads up, keep performing well regularly and we will repeat last year’s results if not better it.
What has been your most memorable race this year?
There has been quite a few races where I’ve done well. My favourite has got to be Valencia where everyone in the team did well and we pushed the potential of the car.
Tell us about racing at night in Singapore and the challenges it presents…
I took part in the 2010 race and thought it was a mega experience. The whole atmosphere in the paddock and working at night is fun because it makes a nice change. We stay on European time so the body keeps its rhythm, although it does feel strange to be going to bed when the sun is rising.
What about the track itself?
It’s a very long lap with some tricky bumps and kerbs, and you need to get close to the walls if you want to be quick. So getting the perfect lap is not easy. It’s anti-clockwise, too, although it’s not as demanding on the neck – as somewhere like Interlagos –
because most of the corners are low to medium speed.
What about the physical challenge generally?
For me Singapore is the toughest race of the year – physically and mentally. I think it’s because there are 23 corners on the track and it’s one of the longest races of the year – always close to the two hour limit. So you certainly feel it after the race because of the high temperatures and humidity.