The team chose to give Hulkenberg just one run in Q3 which ultimately proved to be the right decision. The German was happy with his performance and said that the car continued to improve throughout the qualifying hour.
Speaking in a team statement he said: “I am happy. This was a nice surprise for all of us. I didn’t expect that after a very difficult Friday. Yesterday we struggled a lot with the car and the guys have done a fantastic job turning it around to give me such a competitive car today. It is a highlight for the whole team. Such a result will lift our spirits. During qualifying the car just got better and better and the track improved as well.”
He added: “We made the right decision to go for one timed lap in Q3 and then this happened. I hope the long run pace is good tomorrow. A big thank you to the whole team and everyone in Hinwil, who have been working hard and have never given up in this difficult year.”
It was a difficult session for team-mate Esteban Gutierrez who was eliminated in the first qualifying session, qualifying 17th on the grid. Speaking about his performance he said: “It’s quite disappointing, because we had a good pace and a good rhythm in practice this morning. It was quite surprising to get a result like that in qualifying. The field is very tight and competitive, and it was quite a tricky session. After FP3 this morning I felt in good shape. Everything was working reasonably and now we have to analyse why we are missing more than four tenths to Nico. It’s challenging, but we need to keep pushing.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, team principal of the Sauber F1 Team, admitted that she is very happy with Hulkenberg’s result and is hoping that Gutierrez can make progress during the race after another difficult qualifying session for the Mexican: “We are very happy with a result like that. Of course, there are two sides to it. Step by step we could see the development of the car was going in the right direction. Esteban drove very well over the last few races, so we hope he will be able to get the most out of the car tomorrow as well.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic