Nico Hulkenberg says he didn't expect to be up in eighth after qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but believes Force India is now in with a shout of points from that position.

Having played down his expectations at this stage in the season as Force India brings new developments to the much delayed VJM08, Hulkenberg admits he was only expecting to be challenging to get into Q2 during qualifying, but not only would he crack the top ten, he would out-qualify Lotus, Toro Rosso and Sauber in eighth.

A timely boost for the German, though he says the grid position doesn't disguise the improvements Force India must make going forward, he will take the positive result.

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"Neither me nor the team expected that kind of performance," he said. "We were expecting that we could get out of Q1 but to then qualify P8 was a big surprise.

"We just had a smooth run through the qualifying stages. The track improvement was quite large and we put it together. I don't know if others failed or struggled, but we are where we are.

"It is nice, but it is just one result. We still have the issues in the car and we are still too slow or where we want to be, but it has been a good qualifying and we should be happy with that."

Looking ahead to the race, Hulkenberg is happy with the race pace of the car and believes he can therefore challenge for the top ten come Sunday.

"Definitely fighting for points, I think that is the target. We have pushed ourselves in a much better starting position, but though we have a lot of good cars behind us, looking at the long run pace we look alright and not too far away from Toro and Sauber. I think we have a race tomorrow.