Nico Hulkenberg was encouraged by his first IndyCar test for Arrow McLaren SP at Barber on Monday, enjoying the physical challenge of a car he described as a “steering monster”.
The German is a veteran of 179 Formula 1 starts but was testing for McLaren at Barber in order to evaluate a potential switch to IndyCar, having not raced full-time since 2019. Hulkenberg completed over 100 laps and was around a second away from the fastest time of the day on his first outing, and told RACER afterwards that it took a while to get comfortable with such a different car.
“It took definitely the morning,” Hulkenberg said. “There was some other stuff here such as with the aeroscreen, there was not much air coming in and I had trouble with that in the morning, so it was a little bit difficult and tricky to feel immediately very happy in the car from a physical point of view.
“Then by lunchtime I felt like I made some good progress, and felt a bit more in the groove, and also the lap times and the performance started to come in by then.
“I definitely need to hit the gym! I can confirm that these are steering monsters! Wow. It’s always different when you experience it yourself, but the steering loads are pretty impressive, very heavy. With these cars the G-forces are still there, obviously not as extreme as F1 but still there is G going on, and the steering loads combined with that make it a very physical car.”
But given how long he’s waited to be able to drive a single-seater – his last appearance in F1 came at the Eifel Grand Prix over a year ago – Hulkenberg was pleased to be able to get back behind the wheel.
“It’s been a year since I’ve been in a race car ,so first of all that was quite nice again,” he said. “Obviously quite different from a Formula 1 car, just the whole sensation, the experience, the sound, the seating position – everything is different. So I had to get my head around that, but I think it was a good and successful day from my point of view, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity here today. It was great fun.”
The 34-year-old noted how familiar the way of working was between IndyCar and F1, despite the different cars.
“Working with the team was good,” he said. “Very professional. Pretty F1-style, I would say. Obviously it’s different out here over by the pit wall and stuff, but in terms of how they work and what you talk about and everything, it’s very similar to Formula 1.”