Nico Hulkenberg is fast becoming a reliable pair of hands when it comes to making it through to Q3 and qualifying in the top ten.
However, he admitted it had been more of an uphill battle than usual at Sepang on Saturday, ahead of the final Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix.
“It’s been a struggle for us all weekend,” Hulkenberg said. “We didn’t have the right balance and didn’t have the speed.
“We weren’t sure we were going to get into Q3 so I’m quite pleased with the results,” he added. “I’m quite happy with today’s session.”
Hulkenberg finished qualifying in eighth place. That puts him just behind Force India’s Esteban Ocon and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne on the grid. They will be his first targets when the lights go out on Sunday.
“We’ll push for a little bit more tomorrow and look to get ahead of McLaren and Force India,” he confirmed.
Renault is just one of a number of teams struggling with balance issues at the Sepang International Circuit this weekend.
“We’ve been struggling a little more in Malaysia than the last few races,” admitted Alan Permane, Renault’s sporting director.
“The car balance isn’t where we want it to be this weekend,” he noted. “Whilst we have made improvements, we aren’t entirely satisfied.
“Qualifying was a little frustrating today as we would have liked to have both cars in Q3.
“That said, the drivers were much happier on high fuel on Friday which gives us confidence for tomorrow’s race.” He added that eighth was a good place for Hulkenberg to start.
“[Nico] is in a good position to score some decent points,” he commented.
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