Nico Hulkenberg is expecting to be able to race 'strongly' in the Brazilian Grand Prix after a positive run in qualifying.
Hulkenberg had been seventh in final practice this morning, and he took the same position in the top-ten shootout as well, although he will actually start sixth, after Pastor Maldonado was handed a ten-place penalty.
He will now be gunning for his tenth points' finish of the season on Sunday in the F1 2012 season finale, a race that will be his last with Sahara Force India following his decision to join Sauber for 2013.
“It was an entertaining qualifying hour and it actually reminded me of 2010 with the rain shower just before the session,” Hulkenberg said. “The track dried up quite quickly though and the car felt good – we definitely improved it more between practice and qualifying. So seventh place is not too bad and is probably about what we were expecting.
“For tomorrow we are in good shape: I've got quite a neutral set-up so we can cope with whatever weather we get. It's always a tough race, quite physical, and there are some fast cars around us, but we should have the pace to race strongly.”
Team-mate Paul di Resta meanwhile finished just on the wrong side of the cusp in Q2 and had to settle for eleventh. He will also gain a spot on the grid though, after Maldonado's ten-place drop.
“I was very happy with the car this morning and so we didn't change anything before qualifying. However, the track went away from us during qualifying, probably because of the rain shower, and I didn't feel quite as comfortable,” explained the Scot. “Q1 was quite straightforward and we looked strong in Q2, but my quickest lap was compromised slightly by traffic with [Kamui] Kobayashi recovering onto the track. I think that made the difference between making the top ten.
“I tried to do another lap, but I had used the best of the tyres. I think P11 still puts in a reasonable position to do something tomorrow. We have the choice on tyres, but obviously it depends on what the weather does.”
“We looked competitive in the lead up to qualifying and knew we had a good chance of getting both cars into Q3,” summarised deputy team boss, Robert Fernley. “The rain shower shortly before the session added some excitement to Q1 and it turned out to be a fairly frantic 20 minutes.
“By the time Q2 got underway the track was pretty much dry, but with conditions improving all the time it was important to run a lot of laps and be on track at the end of the session. Paul was a tenth away from making Q3, but Nico was able to match the pace he showed in final practice and made the cut.
“Seventh place is a fair reflection of our competitiveness and should allow us to end the season on a positive note.”