Nico Hulkenberg is under no impression that he will have an easy ride in the Brazilian Grand Prix, but says that he intends to do all he can to hold on to his top five position.
The German will start from the inside of row three thanks to the grid penalty applied to Valtteri Bottas but, despite admitting that the Finn heads a phalanx of faster cars lining up behind his Force India, insists that he has a good chance of defending his position throughout the 72-lap encounter.
“It's only the two Ferraris and Mercedes in front of us, and those cars are hard to beat, so I hope that we can defend our position,” Hulkenberg confirmed, “It won't be easy as Valtteri starts right behind me and, obviously, we know that the Williams is quite quick here too. The Red Bulls are behind me too, so it will be a busy day, but we've made a really good step overnight, which changed the balance and the set-up of the car quite a lot - and in a very positive direction. Today, I was much happier with the car and that's very encouraging. I'm quite excited going into tomorrow's race.”
Hulkenberg's optimism is increased by his record at Interlagos, and the fact that the Force India has consistently shown itself to be one of the pacier cars in the field this weekend.
“I've got a few faster cars behind me, but it is tough to overtake here and we're amongst the people with good top speed, while [Red Bull] is not know for good top speed, so that gives us the edge over them,” he reasoned, “It's going to be a battle for sure, and it's not going to be easy, but of course we're going to try and fight them off.”
While the step forward in handling encouraged him, Hulkenberg admitted that the VJM08B's race pace was still something of a mystery with the revised set-up.
“We only have yesterday's data and, yesterday, the car wasn't as good as today, so it's hard to tell,” he confided, “But I definitely feel that we have a car in our hands where we can fight for good points. We'll have to see how the cars react to [cooler temperatures], especially our car, and what it does to the tyres. Yesterday, we saw some graining and that might help it, or it might make it worse, so it's going to be interesting to see what happens.”