The Sauber F1 Team suffered mixed fortunes in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix. Nico Hulkenberg managed to safely make it through to the top 10 shoot-out and set the seventh fastest time of the session. However team-mate Esteban Gutierrez could only manage 16th after a hard hit with the kerb in Q2.
Hulkenberg had looked quick all weekend and managed to out-qualify both McLaren’s and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, although both were on the medium compound tyre. He is expecting a close battle with Button and Perez in the race but is unsure as to how the soft tyre will perform.
“Overall it was quite a good qualifying,” he said. “P7 is a good position for tomorrow, and I expect a close battle with the McLarens. They chose a different approach by qualifying on the hard tyre, we qualified on the soft, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”
He added: “In the race we have to see how we get on with the soft tyres, as they didn’t look too good in free practice yesterday. Since then we have improved the car, so they should last a bit longer. The long runs on the medium tyre looked good.”
Gutierrez had a torrid day at the office on Friday but felt positive with the car in the first qualifying session. It was a mild improvement over the lack of confidence on Friday, but after progressing through to Q2 he went over a kerb and hurt his neck.
“Today, I think, we had good pace and managed to fix the issues we had yesterday,” he admitted. “However, I struggled to feel comfortable with the track. It’s very slippery. Overall, it has been a complicated weekend, but we managed a good Q1. The car was handling really well and we were in a good shape for Q2.”
Explaining the incident with the kerb he said: “Then went over the kerb and the hit was quite hard, that distracted me quite a bit. My neck started to hurt a lot and now I have to take care of that to be ready for the race tomorrow.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic