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Hulkenberg looking to establish himself in F1 in 2012

ESPNF1 Staff
December 23, 2011 « Ferrari sacrificed pace for good of F1 - Montezemolo | Sebastian Vettel excited about new Red Bull »
Nico Hulkenberg: "I'm lucky that the year of being a reserve driver is over" © Sutton Images
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Nico Hulkenberg is looking to establish his name in Formula One next season so that he does not have to spend another year on the sidelines.

Hulkenberg made his F1 debut with Williams in 2010 after winning the GP2 championship, and despite an impressive rookie year with a pole position in Brazil, he was forced to settle for a reserve driver role at Force India in 2011. Next season he will be back in a race seat alongside Paul di Resta and he is confident he gained enough experience in 2011 to prove himself again in 2012.

"I'm lucky that the year of being a reserve driver is over and now hopefully I'm looking forward to a brighter future," he told the Force India website. "I did 14 free practice sessions, which kept me very sharp, and kept me in there. I think also if you look at all the lap times, I have been close to - or even in front of - the race drivers. Establishing myself in F1 is the initial goal, not just for one year, but for many more years. And then we'll see where it goes."

Hulkenberg said it would take a few weekends to get back in the groove, but he is confident he knows where to focus his attention.

"I hope that within one or two weekends it will all be back," he said. "I know from 2010 what to expect. You need to get yourself sharp for qualifying, and the same in the race. Also during the races I need to see what the Pirelli tyres are like, how they develop. That kind of stuff I couldn't learn this year, so that's something I have to refresh a little bit. I can't do it in theory, I have to do it practice. So therefore I have to get in the car, get out there and drive it, and that way it will come back the fastest."

But he is not underestimating the challenge of going up against di Resta, who had a very solid rookie season in 2011.

"He's a very ambitious, talented and intelligent guy," Hulkenberg added. "I rate him highly. He's shown a lot of good stuff in his first season. It's not going to be easy to beat him, but it's a good challenge, and I think together we can push ourselves and the team forward."