Nico Hulkenberg says he felt the effects of “some human degradation” at the end of his first day driving for Haas in the post-season Abu Dhabi Formula 1 test.
The running at the Yas Marina circuit was the first Hulkenberg had completed since taking part in the 2023 Pirelli tyre test at the Hungaroring in August.
He was limited to 27 laps in the first four hours of running by a mechanical issue, which forced him to stop on track, but he ended the day having completed 110 laps in the VF-22.
“It’s not just the neck, it’s the body too,” said Hulkenberg, when asked by The Race how his programme had felt physically. “The glutes have to work a lot.
“It was hard, it was tough, I was feeling some human degradation towards the end of the day too. But that was to be expected.”
But Hulkenberg said he coped better than expected across the day and that he would now focus on “three months of hardcore preparation” before F1’s short pre-season schedule and the 2023 campaign proper begin.
“Obviously it’s good, it does remind you, it does show you again the intensity these cars have and then you add the race to it, the competition, and it’s another story again,” he said of how useful the day had been for reminding him of the physical level needed to drive in F1.
“But I have a plan and I know what I have to do.”
Despite the stop in the morning affecting his programme, Hulkenberg said he was “satisfied and happy with the day” and that “nothing really unexpected or out of the blue” had surprised him.
“I think I adapted pretty quickly and felt comfortable soon,” he said.
“Yeah, there is [the fact that] it feels like a different car – it starts already when they crank the engine and the engine comes alive and the kind of the vibration from the power unit [you get], every power unit is different.
“But no, I think I got used to that pretty quickly.”
Asked by The Race whether that meant things such as getting his seating position sorted were, therefore, the priority, Hulkenberg said: “Exactly. What I said earlier, it’s a lot of the basics that you can just sort out or identify and then try to fix for next year.
“It just saves time next year that once you get going, you can focus on the performance side more.”
He added that he did not think he had found the “sweetest spot” with the Haas, the balance of which Magnussen and Mick Schumacher have spoken positively about in 2022, but said that was likely influenced by how hot it was at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix venue.
“It was work and I felt limitations, which wasn’t unexpected to be honest,” said Hulkenberg.
“It’s not about laptime.
The basic [things], the comfort happens parallel, but the important stuff is the performance stuff that you identify well: where can we do better? How can we go faster? And pinpoint that very well and try to work with the engineers to try to find ways and solutions with that.
“Obviously next year, there’s going to be a new car so the cards are going to be shuffled a bit again and we’ll see what we get when we start working.”