Hulkenberg: Not the worst time for good result
8 September 2013
Nico Hulkenberg has admitted that claiming third place on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix could not have come at a better time as the F1 'silly season' plays out.
With Ferrari still to sort out its driver line-up for 2014, and the German being mentioned in the same breath as Kimi Raikkonen and current incumbent Felipe Massa, Hulkenberg agreed that out-performing the factory cars on their home circuit could only help his cause as he seeks to finally land a front-running ride.
“I can only influence [decisions] by performing very well and, obviously, today's result is not the worst,” he conceded, “For me, it's just important to focus on my competitiveness and my performance and that will make the rest easier – but, probably, the timing is not the worst at this moment.
The Sauber driver had not enjoyed the smoothest start to his Monza weekend, sitting out much of Friday practice, and admitted that he was as surprised as anyone with his result in qualifying.
“I didn't expect it, especially after a very difficult Friday,” he confirmed, “Yesterday, we struggled a lot with the car, we were trying some different bits and bobs, but the guys have done a fantastic job to turn the car around and give me such a competitive car today.
“It was just that Q1, Q2, Q3, the car just got better and better, I think, with the track improvement and with the right decision just to go for one timed lap, fuelled for one timed lap, was the right call.”
With Sergio Perez having finished on the Monza podium twelve months ago, Hulkenberg's performance will have raised hopes in the Sauber camp, although both team and driver will also be aware of what happened to Williams' Valtteri Bottas after a similar qualifying performance in Canada.
“Last year is a very different year,” Hulkenberg admitted, “Obviously, Sauber was very competitive very often in races [but], this year, we have been struggling more. We've had a more difficult year, let's put it this way.
“I hope that the long run pace is good [this weekend]. From what I could see yesterday, it should be all right. I think I'd like it to stay dry too, to be honest - that would be the easier option, but we'll take it as it comes. We haven't run in wet or intermediate conditions, so it will be new to everyone. Obviously, [rain is] more challenging but I'm open-minded. I don't think we can challenge these guys but points are definitely now the target.”