Nico Hulkenberg put in a brilliant performance and secured the best result of his F1 career in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, although he conceded that at one point he thought a podium was on the cards.
Hulkenberg started in eleventh, but made the most of the chaos at the first corner to jump up to third, and he then passed Kimi Raikkonen on the re-start to move up to second. However, after the first round of pit stops, he dropped behind the Finn, and he later lost another position to the one-stopping Sebastian Vettel, who took second.
Despite having to settle for fourth though, the German was still very happy: “I'm delighted with the result today – my best finish in F1. It's a result that the whole team has worked hard for and I want to say a huge 'thank you' to all the guys because everything went perfectly today,” said the Sahara Force India driver.
“The start was eventful, but fortunately I avoided all the debris and was able to take advantage of the situation. I was up a high as second and for a while I was even thinking we could finish on the podium. But the race was tough.
“I had some great fights with Kimi and Michael [Schumacher], and I was always on the limit. For us it was clear that we had to stop twice and we made the strategy work. So I've got a big smile on my face today because it's just the result we needed for our fight in the championship.”
Team-mate Paul di Resta meanwhile also scored, although he had to settle for tenth, after his afternoon was compromised by a KERS failure.
“A tough race for me largely due to the KERS failure on the car just before the race, which really hurt my performance and speed on the straights. I couldn't really attack or defend, which is a shame because I was up to fourth place at the start, but we couldn't capitalise on it. I kept battling and tried my best to come away with the final point, but so much more was possible today,” he added.
“Spa usually delivers drama and great racing, and today's Grand Prix was full of both,” summarised team boss, Dr Vijay Mallya. “Nico drove a brilliant race to finish fourth on a day when it was important to capitalise on the first lap incident that befell some of our competitors. He stayed out of trouble and ran as high as second after the safety car and showed strong pace with a perfect two-stop strategy. We've been waiting for a result like this for a while and it's a great reward for Nico and the entire team.
“We could have scored even more points had Paul's race not been compromised by the KERS failure, and he did well to pick up a point today.
“The result is important for our fight in the constructors' championship because we have now moved ahead of Williams. We will try and carry this momentum into Monza next weekend,” he concluded.