Nico Hulkenberg was left “pleasantly surprised” after winning Formula 1’s midfield battle in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, finishing sixth for Renault at Spa.

Hulkenberg was braced for a tough fight with Force India drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in Belgium, only for the pair to clash twice on-track and drop down the order.

Hulkenberg enjoyed a sensational fight early on with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, and was able to move into the top six thanks to a retirement for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

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The German then kept Romain Grosjean at bay after the Safety Car period to pick up eight points for Renault.

“It was a solid day, I’m happy and pleasantly surprised,” Hulkenberg said.

“I had a poor start but was able to rectify it at the first corner with a move down the inside to have a great run on Checo [Perez] through Eau Rouge.

“The car felt better than yesterday and we were the fourth quickest team out there again which allowed us to finish in the top six.

“I had some great fighting with Fernando [Alonso]. It was pretty hairy getting three abreast with him and Esteban. Fernando was making a move with DRS and a big tow, then Esteban had a massive overshoot.

“For a moment I thought ‘oh gosh, it’s not going to end well,’ but fortunately it was great racing and I’m sure great to watch from the outside.

“I’ve definitely got good confidence heading to Monza.”

The result saw Renault move to just one point off Haas in P7 in the constructors’ championship with eight races remaining this season.