• 5 minutes with . . . Nico Hulkenberg

'I have no real hero'

ESPNF1 Staff
May 7, 2010
Nico Hulkenberg is a huge tennis fan © Sutton Images
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GP Week caught up with the latest German wunderkind has only met Michael Schumacher fleetingly even though they share a manager; he's good at coming up with naughty nicknames; and he learnt to drive behind the wheel of a forklift

GP Week: How are you finding F1 so far? Is it harder, easier, or as you expected?

NICO HULKENBERG: It's basically as I expected. It's a tough environment, which I knew before, and I love the challenge. If it was easy everyone could do it, and it would be boring.

GP Week: What's been the best moment of the season so far? Congratulations on your point in Malaysia, by the way…

NICO HULKENBERG: Well that point was more a present from Ferrari, when Alonso's engine blew two laps from the end. Apart from that, qualifying in Malaysia was very good. P5 in the wet. I was very happy with that.

GP Week: Have you gleaned much advice from Rubens Barrichello, or have you just been making fun of his bald spot?

NICO HULKENBERG: Ha, no. We have a good relationship as team mates and work well together. I respect him, I think he respects me, but still we're pushing each other hard. We want to beat each other. Sure, there are many things I can learn from him, but he's not coming to me to give me advice. Yet by seeing him work and listening to him talk I am able to pick up things which I can use for myself.

GP Week: Do you have much interaction with Michael Schumacher, given that you share the same manager?

NICO HULKENBERG: No, not at all. I've only met Michael a couple of times before, and very briefly. There's no friendship or anything like that.

GP Week: Who's your hero?

NICO HULKENBERG: Um… I have no real hero.

GP Week: How did you first meet your manager, Willi Weber?

NICO HULKENBERG: It was at the end of 2006. It was just as Michael was stopping, and Willi was asking himself the same question - should I stop or do I carry on with another driver. He decided to do it again, and got in touch with me. We got together. He was running the A1 Team Germany back then. He gave me a test and then invited me to do the first race. That's kind of how it went, and then we had a contract.

GP Week: The GP2 Series is about to fire up again. You're the reigning champion. Who do you think is going to be competitive this year?

NICO HULKENBERG: Hopefully my ART boys. Jules Bianchi is a very quick driver. Pastor [Maldonado] will be good too, but he's under pressure because he's been there so long. But don't underestimate him - he's going to be quick. Christian Vietoris looks good, another German driver.

GP Week: Doesn't everyone call him 'Clitoris'?

NICO HULKENBERG: Yes, I gave him that nickname!

GP Week: Do you have any interests outside of racing?

NICO HULKENBERG: Yes, tennis. I love tennis. I started playing about one and a half years ago. I just play for fun, I'm not a professional. It's good for hand/eye coordination.

GP Week: What was your best subject at school?

NICO HULKENBERG: Geography. I love travel, you see. I particularly like New Zealand.

GP Week: What's your dream car?

NICO HULKENBERG: There are a few I really like. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the BMW M3. Both are great cars. It's difficult to choose one.

GP Week: What does your dad do?

NICO HULKENBERG: He runs a truck company transporting tiles and things backwards and forwards between Germany, Holland and Italy. I used to help him out in the factory driving the forklifts, unloading the trucks and stuff.

GP Week: Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

NICO HULKENBERG: Roger Federer, Angela Merkel and Johnny Depp

GP Week: Indy 500 or Le Mans 24 Hours?

NICO HULKENBERG: Le Mans. I don't see the point of going around an oval all the time.

GP Week: Wet race or dry race?

NICO HULKENBERG: Wet race because many things can happen, it's easier to overtake and it's more down to the driver.