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Hulkenberg: Red Bull is fast

NEWS STORY
14/03/2014

An improved showing from Red Bull may have surprised some, but not Nico Hulkenberg who enjoyed a solid first day back at work. The German reeled off an almost complete race distance on the opening day's running in Melbourne, which came as a pleasant surprise following a difficult pre-season.

"Everything went smoothly," he said after the second free practice session in Albert Park. "We could go through our programme pretty much like last year, like a normal Friday.

"From that point of view it's been a good day," he added. "Obviously we're still learning and trying to optimise the performance of the car but no big issues."

The only real problem came as a result of driver error when 'The Hulk' touched the grass under braking for the turn nine chicane, pitching him in to the gravel. "My mistake," he confessed. "When the sun is very low it's tough to see. There's a few corners were it's really hard to see the edge of the track and you just need to leave a bit more space."

When asked who he felt was on top, Hulkenberg's reaction was somewhat predictable (Mercedes) though he suggests Red Bull is perhaps stronger than it is letting on. "They seem quick," he claimed. "Riccardo showed signs (in testing); when he tried one lap there was evidence there's some speed in the car, and now they seemed to have fixed some of the issues as well.

"I expected that they would make a step forward. A team like that with all the resources they have, they're not hanging around where they were!"

As for his own chances the 27-year-old was less certain. "We are obviously around about the top ten," he suggested. "We are, to Rosberg or Hamilton, a bit more than a second off.

"But it's the first day. There's room for improvement but I think there's room for improvement for everyone. That's where we sit today. Let's see where we sit tomorrow."

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

Mat Coch

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