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Force to Reckon With

By PTA News Bureau

They are stepping on it like never before. Sahara Force India had a blitz of a start in the Formula One 2014 season, and is currently at fourth in team position behind Mercedes, Red Bull Racing Renault and Ferrari. Nico Hulkenberg, the lead driver, now at sixth, is all revved up to catch the elusive top-of-the podium slot.

“It’s my best run of results in Formula One and I’m really enjoying the racing,” Nico Hulkenberg told Polymers & Tyre Asia after another impressive race on the winding Monaco streets where he finished fifth. Nico and Sahara Force India are on a song this 2014 season, scoring points among the F1 top billers like Mercedes, Red Bull Racing-Renault and Ferrari and is currently parked at Number Four in team points (77) after Montreal, Canada. Vijay Mallya’s boys never had it like this before.

“I’ve said many times that consistency is our strength and we showed that again in Monaco with another fifth place. Monaco was not our strongest track, or our weakest track, but we still brought the car home for a great result,” Nico told PTA in an exclusive interview.

Unlike the other regular tracks, Monaco demands more from the man and the machine. Racing on its corner-full streets presents a unique challenge and Nico lived up to it in good style.

“In terms of precision it’s right up there with Singapore as the toughest race of the year. You never get a break during the lap; you are always working hard because it’s corner after corner. Even the straights are really short and it’s high-speed for such a narrow track.

“I particularly enjoy the swimming pool area, which is very quick, and the two right-hand corners before the tunnel. But it’s the event of the year. Your heartbeat goes up when you arrive there and walk over the bridge into the pits. The place looks amazing with the buildings, the scenery and the mountains. Of course the biggest thrill is driving the track because it’s so unique and gives you the biggest excitement of the year,” the German ace said.

Montreal followed Monaco and Nico had another impressive race, again finishing fifth and helping Force India winning 10 more points. His team mate Sergio Perez had a tough day, challenged for victory until the closing laps of the race and becoming the innocent victim of a high-speed crash on the final lap after contact with Felipe Massa (William-Mercedes).

The team has also been managing the tyre changes well, working hard to get the best out of the new Pirelli for the season.

Nico said: “Our car seems to suit the softer compounds really well and it is positive that we took our opportunities when they presented to us. The different compounds are not very distant in terms of performance – they are all pretty hard – so it is just a matter of using the first practice sessions to tune the car to whichever are available on the day.”

“We are using harder tyres than last season and with the reduction in down force, this means we have to work really hard to get the best out of them. But it’s the same situation for everyone out there, it’s something we are working to adapt to,” he added.

The confidence is shared by Tom McCullough, Chief Race Engineer. “We have built a very good car that is relatively kind on the tyres and this allows us a degree of flexibility when it comes to strategies. We are strong in the races and have been turning our performance into points all season. Our drivers are of excellent calibre and they’re constantly delivering the best from the car,” Tom told PTA.

Full Article in PTA June/July issue

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