Nico Hulkenberg says Renault is proving its credentials as the head team in the intense midfield scrap after securing sixth place at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg has been one of the most consistent F1 midfield drivers at the start of the 2018 campaign with three consecutive top seven finishes including back-to-back sixth places in Bahrain and China.

The German driver enjoyed a trouble-free race at the Shanghai International Circuit to power to the best of the rest tag behind the top three teams and while an outside shot at a maiden F1 podium disappeared during the frantic finish to the Chinese Grand Prix Hulkenberg was content with delivering for Renault.

“We were on a two-stop strategy from the beginning, so we had to make the tyre last, while maintaining strong pace,” Hulkenberg said. “It paid off well, the safety car played to our hands and made things easier, but even without the safety car I think we would have come out on top.

“The pace was good and we were on top of the midfield, so not a bad day overall. Eight points, we’ll take that home. It was an entertaining one, that’s for sure.”

Hulkenberg moved to level on points with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso on 22 points each after the opening three rounds while Renault closed to within three points of the Woking-based team in the fight for fourth place in the F1 world constructors’ championship.

Renault’s 2018 F1 results mark its best start to a season since 2011 when it claimed two podium finishes in the opening two races, largely fuelled by Hulkenbeg’s impressive form over the opening three rounds with the German driver scoring 22 of Renault’s current haul of 25 points.

Hulkenberg’s performances have given the 30-year-old his best start to an F1 campaign since 2014 when he competed for Force India.

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