The German driver started the race in 11th place after missing out on a spot in the final qualifying segment by less than half a tenth.
He started the race on the soft compound Pirelli tyre and failed to make progress in the early stages. However, a long first stint helped him move up the order and he gained several positions after his first pit stop.
Hulkenberg lost a few positions during his final stint on the super-soft tyre and was passed by Jenson Button in the closing stages.
However, he was then promoted two positions to fifth place after a crash involving Felipe Massa and his team-mate Sergio Perez.
The Mexican had impressively managed a 34-lap opening stint on the option tyre and advanced to second place after Lewis Hamilton retired.
However, his VJM07 developed a brake problem and he was forced to defend heavily from the two Red Bull Racing drivers in the final laps.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel managed to find a way through, before he collided with Massa on the run to turn one on the final lap.
The two drivers collided heavily with the wall and were taken to hospital for checks, before being discharged a little while later.
It was a disappointing end to the race for Perez, who had looked on course for a strong top five result. His day got even worse when he was handed a five-place penalty for the incident for the next race in Austria.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic