Nico Hulkenberg is keen to get his comeback Formula 1 season underway after three seasons away from a full-time season in the sport.
Hulkenberg, who replaces countryman Mick Schumacher at Haas, has made sporadic appearances in F1 since 2019 but is now relishing his second chance in the sport.
“I think the approach is similar, said Hulkenberg to the media. “I just feel refreshed, reset, and in good mind.
“I’ve done a couple of seasons, so I know what’s coming. So I know what to expect and am just ready to start.”
A great feeling to be back in F1
Unlike most stand-in drivers, Hulkenberg has experience with the new generation of F1 cars following a brief cameo at Aston Martin in 2022 after Sebastian Vettel tested positive for Covid-19.
With only one and a half days of testing, the drivers will have had very little preparation before Sunday’s race, with the midfield set to be closer than ever.
“Firstly, in testing, it’s essential for (a) driver to connect with the car and have a good feeling with it,” explained Hulkenberg. “I feel that’s what I’ve done in the limited time.
“That feeling is going to grow stronger race by race because testing was not huge. I think the midfield is very competitive and tight once again.
“We say that every year but it’s always the case, and small things can have an impact and make a big difference.
“I believe we were somewhere in the midfield. It can be very track-dependent if you’re the upper or lower end, but our job [is] to maximise what we have and score results.”
Happy to be getting on with Magnussen
Hulkenberg will be partnered by Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen, who made a shock comeback on the eve of last year’s race, finishing fifth before going on to take pole in Brazil.
“We actually broke the ice here 12 months ago when I stepped in for Seb,” explains Hulkenberg. “There’s the driver’s picture on Sunday morning. We [were] standing behind each other.
“I reached out with a hand and a smile and put his words into his face. That’s where our relationship actually started, 12 months ago, and ever since, you know, it’s been pretty good.
“We’ve been hanging out a bit over the winter in the UK, doing marketing and media stuff. I feel no tension or friction between us.
“He’s a dad, too. So we’re both in similar positions in our life and looking forward to working alongside him.”