Busy time for Hulkenberg juggling F1 and Le Mans
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg is putting himself through an endurance challenge in more ways than one as he prepares for his Le Mans 24 Hours debut next week in between Formula One commitments.
The German, who was on track for Canadian Grand Prix practice at a cloudy Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Friday, arrived in Montreal fresh from testing with Porsche at Le Mans a week after the Monaco Grand Prix.
As soon as Sunday’s Formula One race is over, he will fly back to France for scrutineering at Le Mans on Monday.
“Then I have a whole week there. Practice starts on Wednesday, with the first qualifying session on Wednesday evening,” he said.
“The race starts on Saturday afternoon and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I’ll have three days of recovery somewhere — at home or somewhere else — and then Austria (for the Grand Prix at Spielberg).”
Hulkenberg is a rarity in the modern sport, a throwback to a more distant past when Formula One drivers would happily compete in both grands prix and sportscar events without contractual restraints.
Although the French race is now protected on the calendar from any clash with Formula One, drivers have generally waited until their grand prix careers are over before taking part.
Australian Mark Webber, previously with Red Bull in F1 and now also with Porsche, is just one of several ex-Formula One drivers racing at Le Mans.
Hulkenberg will be the only active F1 driver there, in a race that is all about team work rather than the obsession of beating one’s team mate, and he was looking forward to it.
“To enter this world is actually a nice change. I don’t struggle to live in it,” said the German, who has never previously attended the race and only saw the track for the first time last week.
“There are a lot of straights there, which is resting time. Obviously you have to overtake some cars but driving in a straight line is not so difficult and demanding,” he added.
“But I’m sure when you have your triple stint on the car, or whatever, it’s demanding — especially at night. I just look forward to the experience there.
“I think I am going to be so pumped up when I jump in that car at night, and the adrenaline is pumping, that I don’t think I will suffer issues with feeling tired.”