Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he is enjoying his status as the most experienced driver at Sauber this year.
It is a new experience for the 25-year-old, who although now a very familiar face in the paddock, is actually contesting only his third full season of F1 in 2013. He made his debut at Williams in 2010, but had to sit out 2011 as Force India’s reserve, before stepping back into the race cockpit last season. The German has now switched to Sauber, where he is the de-facto team leader due to teammate Esteban Gutierrez’s rookie status.
“I think your question can not be easily answered, because my situations have been so fundamentally different,” Hulkenberg said in an interview with his sponsor Dekra. He insists it is too easy to say his status has now come full circle, having once been the rookie at Williams, and now showing the way for Mexican Gutierrez. “When I was a rookie (at Williams), Rubens (Barrichello) was the most experienced formula one driver, with 18 years (in F1) under his belt. “Now I have two years of experience, so the difference between me and Esteban is not as big as it was between me and Rubens. “But I do think I prefer the current situation, because I’ve been in the sport longer and I do have some experience, which is a big help in this sport.”
Hulkenberg’s situation does come with arguably extra pressure, though, because he is perhaps expected to beat his inexperienced teammate. “Absolutely it’s expected of me that I beat my teammate,” he agreed. “But it’s also wrong to underestimate Esteban. He is incredibly fast and I can still learn things from him. “Otherwise, not much has changed for me compared to 2010 or 2012 — you always try to beat your teammate, no matter how experienced or inexperienced you are.”