Despite ending the day sandwiched between them on the FP2 timesheets, Nico Hulkenberg doesn't reckon that Force India will be able to match either Red Bull or Ferrari in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The German posted the third-fastest time of the afternoon practice session to establish himself as the closest challenger to the Red Bull pairing of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo and lap faster than four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, but is well aware that the frontrunners will have performance to spare over the remainder of the weekend.
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“It is positive, but this isn't the day that matters – the next two are much more important,” Hulkenberg stressed, “Usually, some other people improve from Friday to Saturday and we need to do the same, make sure we do our homework and be competitive on Sunday.
“It's only Friday and it doesn't get us anything. The car felt okay in P2 but, in P1, I was struggling a bit. We managed to bring it together better but, obviously, Mercedes didn't run the supersoft, which is why they are behind us – and, for sure, they won't be behind us tomorrow or Sunday!”
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Dismissing his team's chances of battling with the established superpowers, Hulkenberg set his sights on a more familiar foe, despite it trailing Force India on the day one timesheets.
“I expect a tough weekend, and things look pretty tight between us and Williams again, so we've just got to stay focused and get the best out of this,” he insisted, “We got a good day of work - there's still some homework to be done, but we've got some good data to analyse."
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