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Interview with Nico Hülkenberg: & # 34; You feel incognito at night & # 34;

Interview with Nico Hülkenberg
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Is this your first time at Le Mans?

H ülkenberg: When I was a child, I only drove Formula 1. Over the past few years, however, I've been paying more and more attention to it and watching the race on TV. The pre-test was really my very first contact with Le Mans.

What was your first impression when you saw this monster of the racetrack for the first time?

Hülkenberg: Sure, there's a lot of history in there and the route is mega-famous. But at the end of the day, it's a racetrack that you have to drive and learn. Nothing has knocked me out of my socks now. The track is absolutely awesome, old school. What surprised me: You have a lot of rest phases because there is a lot going on straight ahead. You're just waiting for the next bend. My highlights are the Indianapolis curves. They have a nice river. And then of course the Porsche corners, because you are really fast there. And the walls aren't far away.

How did you do your first round?

Hülkenberg: On Saturday we cycled around. And then on Sunday in LMP1.

Let's do a lap with you.

Hülkenberg: It starts with the right bend in front of the Dunlop arch. You apply the brakes on the chicane, it is quite wavy there, the car gets restless. The curbs in the chicanes are nice and flat because the part is also a motorcycle route. You can shave them really nicely. With the all-wheel drive in the LMP1, it is always important to focus precisely on exiting a curve so that you have optimal traction. Then it goes down through the Esses, which are nice and fluid and fast. Of course you always hope that you don't run into traffic. That costs you real lap time there. Then there is turn 5, which brings you to the first straight.

And then you get bored?

Hülkenberg: Sure, you switch on the autopilot and can relax for a minute. Take an espresso from the mini-bar on the side. But kidding aside. BetweenThere are still two chicanes right now. They are very similar, only mirror-inverted. One goes to the right, the other to the left. Both have a quick entrance and are otherwise not such a tight constriction. Minimum speed is around 100 km /h. At the end of the straight we have another slow corner with Mulsanne. Here again it is very important to find the optimal outcome. With so much power in the LMP1 cars, you have to take advantage of it. Always bring the power forward, don't waste it left or right. The performance does not fizzle out like in Formula 1, which has no four-wheel drive. From then on it goes full throttle again.

Up to your favorite spot?

Hülkenberg: Yes, the two Indianapolis curves are really awesome. Before the first you arrive at 330 km /h and throw the car in there. The curve is slightly excessive, you can lean in nicely. It's really brutal. But as soon as you are at the apex, you have to drop anchor for Indy 2. If you are too late on the brakes, you will fly off badly. The slower corner is also well banked. You notice that when the compression comes and the grip is suddenly there, then it really spits you out of the curve. With Arnage there is another very slow corner with extremely little grip. You actually think that you can brake later, but you quickly shoot straight ahead. Afterwards there is another longer straight in the direction of Porsche curves.

And are they a real challenge?

Hülkenberg: Yes. The first on the right is phenomenally fast, absolutely full. The second double left needs a little lob. You still have 250 things on it, and it's extremely tight there. There is practically no outlet. You just pray that a GT doesn't give way in front of you. Otherwise you will get stuck behind the whole passage.

Does it worry when the walls are so close to the track?

Hülkenberg: Don't worry, but you have respect. You're already thinking: I might have to be a little careful here. Then the round comes to an end. The last two harassments are relatively easy.

Is the route easy to learn?

Hülkenberg: Actually yes.

How much did you drive on the pre-test?

Hulkenberg: The 10 rounds in the morning to qualify. Around 25 laps in the afternoon. Then it was wet too. Which makes it a bit more uncomfortable because the grip window is getting smaller. The buffer disappears when lapping the GT cars. They slide around more than we do. If you don't know whatwho does before you, it gets pretty tricky. It's easier to pass them on a dry track.

Is it easier to thread your way through traffic in Le Mans than in Spa?

Hülkenberg: That is very similar. It always depends on timing. In some places you don't want to have cars in front of you. It is best if you wipe past the slow cars just before turning in. But you can't choose. You lap every few seconds. That's why you can forget that the box informs you about the traffic via radio. That would be way too much information. In an LMP1 you already have your hands full in the cockpit.

The new experience for you will be driving at night with traffic?

Hülkenberg: Driving at night was actually always my favorite thing during the tests. It's kind of a cool atmosphere. You feel a little incognito, you are one with yourself, the car and the track. And it's a little more demanding. Because you don't see the braking and turning points as clearly as during the day. Everything is dark there and not as lit up as at night races in Formula 1. Only your headlights illuminate the track.


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