Former Formula 1 driver Nico Hulkenberg says he was left impressed by the physical and professional nature of IndyCar his maiden test with Arrow McLaren SP.
Hulkenberg was part of a five-driver test at Barber Motorsports Park on Monday, in which 2012 IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay tested with his former ECR team, while 2021 IndyLights Champion Kyle Kirkwood was also in action.
Hulkenberg’s test was an evaluation run but McLaren CEO Zak Brown has outlined that he is ‘towards the top’ of the team’s list of drivers for a potential third car for 2023.
Despite being out of a race car since last October’s Eifel Grand Prix, the 34-year-old quickly acclimatised to his new surroundings, completing over 100 laps, ending the day a second slower than the fastest time set by Indy Lights runner-up David Malukas in the No.18 Dale Coyne-Honda.
“It took definitely the morning,” Hulkenberg told RACER. “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.
“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.”
While noticing the drastic differences on-track between F1 and IndyCar, Hulkenberg was also left impressed by the similarities off the track.
“It’s been a year since I’ve been in a race car,” he added. “So first of all that was quite nice again. 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.”
“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.”