Nico Hülkenberg admitted his surprise to the gap he has to the chasing pack behind him after qualifying seventh for the United States Grand Prix on Saturday.
The Sahara Force India F1 Team driver was the best of the rest behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari teams on Saturday, and finished 0.270 seconds behind Sebastian Vettel in the session but 0.488 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas of the Williams Martini Racing team.
“Lining up seventh on the grid is as good as it gets today,” said Hülkenberg. “Once again, we’re the first after the three big teams, which is where we can realistically expect to be.
“We knew we would perform well here, but I am actually quite surprised by the big margin we have over the cars behind us.”
Hülkenberg would be happy to have a lonely race at the Circuit of the Americas providing it brings him a strong result on Sunday, and knows choosing the optimum strategy will be key to that, providing he can stay out of trouble at the start.
“The start and the first lap will be fundamental for the race, so I will need to keep out of trouble, put my head down and push hard,” said Hülkenberg. “Choosing the right strategy is where we will focus tonight – I think there are a few different options, so we will need to see which one gives us the best opportunity.
“Looking at the gaps ahead and behind us, we may be in for a bit of a lonely afternoon, but I wouldn’t mind it at all – I just want a strong result!”