Hulkenberg surprised by Force India mileage in Barcelona

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Nico Hulkenberg has admitted that he did not expect Force India to complete so many laps with its new car following its debut on Friday afternoon in Barcelona.

The VJM08 was subject to a number of delays, meaning that the team could only roll it out on track for the first time on Friday with Hulkenberg behind the wheel.

However, in the past day-and-a-half, the German driver has managed to complete 234 laps, with 157 of them coming on Saturday.

Speaking to the media after his running had finished, Hulkenberg admitted that he was surprised by the mileage that had been completed and the lack of problems on the new car.

“I think that’s a surprise even to myself,” Hulkenberg said. “It’s very good that we brought it here and shook it out of our sleeve like this. That was a surprise I think to me, to the team and to everybody.

“But obviously that’s what we needed and helps us a little bit. I think we’ve achieved a lot today. I think everybody is as happy as they can be at the moment. Going back now, there’s a lot of data.

“Tomorrow is another day with Checo [Perez] in the car so hopefully there will be a lot more data and the engineers will have a lot of stuff to go through between now and Melbourne.”

Having debuted its car some 26 days later than the rest of the field, Force India heads into the new season playing catch-up. As a result of the limited running, Hulkenberg is unsure where the team will lie in the pecking order come the first race of the year on March 15.

“I think it’s impossible to judge that right now,” he said. “It’s going to be tough. We can be sure about that, it’s not going to be an easy one in Melbourne. A big challenge for us, but to be honest I’m very relaxed and open-minded.

“We go there as prepared as we can be with this limited running, and we’ll just make the most of it. We still have a lot of work in front of us. I can already see and identify some of the problems again this car has, but also some positives.

“I think overall we just need to stay focused and keep working hard in trying to develop this car.”

Sergio Perez will close out pre-season testing for Force India in Barcelona on Sunday in what will be his first run in the VJM08 car.