Nico Hulkenberg believes that understanding the Pirelli tires in qualifying and race conditions will be key to a strong start on his Formula 1 return with Force India in 2012.
Although the 24-year-old completed some 1,200 miles of running for the team in testing and Friday practice during 2012 on the Italian rubber, his last experience of qualifying and racing was for Williams in Abu Dhabi one year ago. This was when Bridgestone was still supplying F1 tires.
Force India will take into account the German's need to better understand the performance of the Pirelli tires in qualifying and race conditions during testing as most of his running has been limited to the harder compounds on a green track on Friday mornings.
"It will be tough, but I went through that process last year with Williams as well," Hulkenberg said. "I don't know exactly how the Pirelli tires will behave so I will make sure that I get all of the information I need to learn quickly.
"You need to get out there and do the races so that you can learn about them. On a theoretical basis, there is not so much that you can do. You have to drive and learn from it."
Hulkenberg's task on his comeback will be made easier by his familiarity with the team after attending every race in 2011 as reserve driver and running on Fridays on 14 occasions. Although the relationship between him and the team will change now that he is a race driver, the fact that he is already comfortable with the personnel should make life easier.
"I know everyone in the team and all of the engineers, but I haven't worked as closely with them as I will as a race driver," said Hulkenberg. "I was involved with briefings and spoke to them during the race weekends, so it shouldn't be difficult. I'm very comfortable and happy with the guys in the team."