Nico Hülkenberg enjoyed a superb Sunday outing in Melbourne to begin his 2019 season with points in the bag. Under the lights of Bahrain is the next stop for the German, at the circuit where he made his Formula 1 debut back in 2010.
What’s the post-Melbourne feeling?
On a whole we’re happy to take home a handful of points from the first race. It was an up and down kind of weekend. We missed out on some running on Friday and when we hit the track, our short run and long run pace looked quite decent. Without the problem in Q2, we probably would have made Q3. The race was positive after having a good getaway off the line. I raced hard from there, and it was largely a smooth run until the final few laps where it was about getting my head down, elbows out and defending the position. There’s a lot more work we can do to improve. We know that, and we have to keep the developments coming if we’re to edge away from the midfield group. We can be content with our performance in Melbourne, but I’m keen for more in Bahrain.
How do you prepare for the Bahrain Grand Prix?
It was nice to take some rest between leaving Australia and heading to Bahrain. It’s usually a bit lighter in Bahrain in terms of my schedule for the week. Bahrain is very hot, even though we qualify and race at night when it’s significantly cooler. The sun starts low for the race and then we drive into the darkness. FP1 and FP3 are slightly trickier and not run under representative conditions. Track temperature swings around over the weekend, so it’s important to keep on top of set-up changes. FP2 is the important session as it’s run at a similar time to qualifying and the race. It can also be windy in places there, so that’s something to keep an eye on through the weekend.
What’s a lap like there?
I have good memories in Bahrain, as it’s where I made my Formula 1 debut in 2010. The lap is quite busy. It begins with a long straight heading into the hard-braking zone at Turn 1, which is the best overtaking spot on the lap. You can get a good tow down the straight especially with DRS. It can be easy to overshoot Turn 1, though. Turns 2 and 3 send you up the hill to Turn 4 which is another decent overtaking spot. The second sector begins after that and the run through Turns 5, 6 and 7 are good fun at high-speed. Turn 10 throws you out onto a straight, before beginning the final sector where the wind can be strong. It’s important for a good exit out of the final corner to have a fast run onto the main straight.