Nico Hulkenberg clinching a third place start on the grid was one of the highlights of qualifying on Saturday, but many still expected the Sauber to become a mobile chicane at the start of the Italian Grand Prix
and to steadily fall back once the race got underway.
While it's true that Hulkenberg was unable to stop the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso
and Felipe Massa
surging past him on the opening lap, there's no shame in that - even the likes of Sebastian Vettel
and Lewis Hamilton
have been unable to stop that from happening in recent times.
What's remarkable is that once the Ferraris were clear, Hulkenberg maintained fifth position right through to his one and only pit stop of the day at the end of lap 24, and after that he steadily worked his way back to fifth place which he then held for the last 15 laps of the race despite coming under strong pressure toward the end from Nico Rosberg
in the Mercedes.
“It's a great result," he said. "Another great performance by the team today. I am very happy and fifth was the ideal result.
"Despite starting third, it was always clear keeping the Ferrari
and Red Bulls behind was not realistic. I lost two places right at the start, but then the pace was good and, especially towards the end, I was able to catch up quite a bit again.
"I kept the Mercedes behind with Nico leaving no room for me making any mistakes," he added. "It's a very nice result for the team, and finally we have some points again. I hope this will give us some momentum, so we can carry this form on to the next couple of races."
Sauber F1 team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was ecstatic after a rare piece of good news for the Swiss team which has been under intense financial pressure in recent months.
"We are happy about such a great result. Nico fought hard and drove a fantastic race. The crew did a great job as well today," she said. "We all need money, that's what the sport is about, we have got into a partnership and it allows us to move in the right direction. But these results show we are moving in the right direction and that's what we all need.
"We are pleased to see that, for the first time, the result reflects us making a step forward with the development of the car. A big thank you to the race team here in Monza and the team back in Hinwil."