Nico Hulkenberg has played down claims Force India could be a podium-getting ‘dark horse’ of the 2012 season.
Behind the top battle involving Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes, there appears a closely-packed midfield, with potential challengers including Ferrari, Toro Rosso, Sauber and Force India. German Hulkenberg is returning to F1 with Silverstone based Force India this season, after being ousted by Williams at the end of 2010.
Asked what his goals are by Germany’s Sport1, the 24-year-old answered: “First I want to establish myself (in F1), after the bad experience of 2010.
“A couple of points would also be great,” he smiled.
Some pundits, however, are predicting that podiums may be possible for Hulkenberg – the 2010 Brazil GP pole sitter – and his highly rated teammate Paul di Resta.
“Clearly this is a dream,” the German admitted. “But at the moment I don’t think that’s our goal. Of course if we should be in that situation in a race, then we will try everything for it.”
Hulkenberg conceded that Force India is not ready to challenge F1’s frontrunners.
“I think Red Bull have their nose in front again, and McLaren are the closest to them. I have no idea what Ferrari are doing at the moment and Mercedes is also difficult to assess because they haven’t shown much.”
He said countryman Sebastian Vettel’s crown, however, may be challenged.
“It’s clear that he is the man to beat,” said Hulkenberg.