Nico Hulkenberg claims 2014 F1 changes have made it easier for rookies

Hulkenberg, who arrived in F1 as GP2 champion in 2010 but struggled to assert himself over Williams team-mate Rubens Barrichello, reckons the drastic changes to F1 cars for this season may have helped these new drivers give a better account of themselves.

“I wonder whether it has become easier coming into Formula 1 as a rookie with the new regulations and how the cars are now,” Hulkenberg told AUTOSPORT. “I’m not sure. It’s quite obvious there’s Kvyat, Magnussen – a lot of young people come in and straight away they’re on top of their team mates and doing really well. I’m not saying they’re bad drivers – they’re pretty good drivers I think. But I remember when I came in, my first year as a rookie was a bit tougher.

“I don’t know if they’re just that much better or if things have become easier. If you’re a driver who has been in Formula 1 for 10 years then yes, experience is a very good thing to have, but maybe some of that experience is not so valid now, so some of the advantage is gone because of that.”

Frenchman Vergne agrees the rule changes have helped level the playing field for drivers this year.

“I believe the change in the regulations put all of us drivers on the same level and it’s a totally different car this year,” Vergne told AUTOSPORT. This year’s cars are totally different to drive – just ask a few drivers and they will say they are struggling like hell. So I think it has been a good year for rookies to come into F1.”

Russian teenager Kvyat, who became the youngest driver ever to score points in F1 on his debut in Australia, conceded the regulation changes may have helped him this year, but argued there is still a lot to learn for rookies.

“There are lots of things in Formula 1 that I am still learning, like the downforce and setting up the car for the race and so on,” Kvyat told AUTOSPORT.

“There are many, many things to play around with: pressures, flaps, balance and so on. For me, it’s been going in a good direction.”