6 October 2013
Korean Grand Prix: Hulkenberg stars in ‘best race of career’
Nico Hulkenberg proved his ability as a race driver with another strong display in the Korean GP, but insists that fourth place there won't enhance his chances of a leading seat in 2014.
Nico Hulkenberg did his chances of landing a leading role in next year's F1 showpiece a power of good by taking his Sauber to fourth place in the Korean Grand Prix.
Having qualified in the top ten on Saturday afternoon, the German remained a fixture among the points positions on raceday, but added lustre to his performance by resisting pressure from both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso through the second half of the 55-lap encounter to equal his career-best result.
“Today I drove one of the best races in my career so far,” he confirmed, “I have had cars in the mirrors before but, today, there were a lot and it was a bit annoying. Lewis really put the pressure on at the end, especially in the last sector, so I knew I needed to get out of turn one well.”
Hamilton tried on several occasions to get by the Sauber, only to find every move rebuffed by the Swiss car's ability to get the power down and pull away out of corners.
“The car's traction was very good today, so that kept me alive against Fernando and then Lewis later on,” Hulkenberg, who started on the supersoft tyres before making two stops for the more durable mediums, admitted, “but we were also very fast on the straight.
“I had a good start, although I was on the outside into turn one, which was a loss at first. But then I had a real good slipstream and was able to get past cars on the outside. A big thank you to the entire team for providing such an excellent car today.”
Fourth for Hulkenberg was not only the best result of the season for the Sauber team, as the twelve points he secured moved the team up a place in the constructors' championship, into a tie for seventh spot with Toro Rosso. The driver also made serious gains, passing no fewer than four drivers in the individual standings.
Hulkenberg remains in the frame for several drives next season, despite his height and weight appearing to mitigate against a leading role in the new-look F1, and several team owners – albeit not necessarily the ones able to hire him – have commented on how unfair it would be for the German talent to miss out because of a regulation that could easily be accommodated to help the bigger pilots.
With Lotus already the favourite to snap him up as replacement for Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen, and McLaren possibly waiting in the wings should it decide to call time on Sergio Perez, Hulkenberg insists that, while not harming his chances, the Korean result would not necessarily endear him any more to those teams showing interest.
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