After his stand out performances in recent races, you would think that seventh on the grid would be what Nico Hulkenberg expected. However, the German was surprised by his Q3 performance and was happy with his lap.
He progressed through the opening two sessions with ease and managed to better the lap times of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button to head the fourth row on the grid in the top 10 shoot-out. Discussing his day at the office he said: “We knew we could fight for the top ten today, but P7 is a nice surprise. It was very tight, everything had to fall into place and I think we managed to do that.”
With a head wind in the opening few corners and a tailwind down the two straights; Hulkenberg had a lot of fun out on track during qualifying: “Compared to yesterday, the wind changed so we had a tail wind on the straights and this makes you really quick. That means we have a head wind in sector one, which gives you a lot of grip. It was so much fun to put a really good lap together in Q3. I am very happy.”
Looking ahead to the race, the target is crystal: “Clearly tomorrow we’ll be aiming for points.”
Esteban Gutierrez had an eventful qualifying hour which included a fire on his Sauber C32. The Mexican managed to hot-foot it out of the car and the fire was extinguished shortly after and with no damage to the car, he was able to return to the track and qualify in 14th place.
Explaining the situation with the fire he said: “Regarding the fire, I just saw it and jumped out. The guys had everything under control and I was relieved that I was able to continue my qualifying. We are not as competitive as on previous tracks. I was just two tenths slower than Nico in Q2. This is the first time for me driving on this track and I pushed right to the limit.”
Looking ahead to the race he added: “We put a good lap together and now I have to stay optimistic for tomorrow, as I think we have a good pace in the long runs. Points are not easy, but we will do our best.”
Sauber’s head of engineering Tom McCullough confirmed that the brief pit fire was due to unburnt fuel.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic